Win over Colts gets Sox back on track
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
Bryant Black Sox AAA American Legion coaches Craig and Tic Harrison were not particularly pleased with the effort their team put out in a 7-1 loss to Lake Hamilton on Tuesday, May 22.
Admittedly, many of the players were weary and distracted as spring football was about to conclude and graduation approached.
But it gave the coaches a chance to get their players’ attention with a little extra running after the game. And some, uh, counseling.
And the Sox responded positively. In their next contest, on Friday, May 25, they rallied from a 2-0 deficit with five runs in the fifth on their way to a 7-3 win over the North Little Rock Colts at Bryant High School Field.
“Regardless of the score — although we like to win, you know that,” stated Craig Harrison after the game, “we played with a little effort tonight. Our infielders were a little more active, our outfielders were making some plays and our pitcher did a good job.
“It starts on the mound,” he continued.
Right-hander Tyler Sawyer scattered eight hits in six innings-plus but walked just one and struck out seven in picking up the win with seventh-inning relief from Tanner Zuber.
“Tyler did a good job,” Harrison stated. “We went with fastballs and change-ups early in the game, established the change-up, and saved his breaking pitch for late in the game. (North Little Rock) has some free swingers over there, a good team. Tyler did a good job. He was around the plate all night and we could throw any pitch we wanted to.”
Sawyer pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second but, in the top of the fourth an infield hit by Alex Barker and a two-out triple by North Little Rock pitcher Carroll Newton broke up the scoreless contest.
Ryan Wilson singled and Devin Hurt was hit by a pitch to give the Sox a chance to score with one out in the bottom of the inning but they were stranded.
In the top of the fifth, Clark Sims doubled, advanced to third on a flyball and scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
Bryant’s big fifth began with a walk to Trent Daniel. On the first pitch to Alex Kehrees, the bunt was on.
“I wanted to bunt Alex just to stay out of the doubleplay,” Harrison recalled. “If he hits into a doubleplay we’re going into the sixth down 2-0. When he fouled off the first pitch, I thought, we’re down two and if we bunt we’re just playing for one so I let him swing away.”
Kehrees hit a tap to the left of the mound that Newton pounced on. He whirled to throw to second in hopes of getting a force but his toss was wild, sailing into center, allowing Daniel to take third and Kehrees to reach first safely.
“I looked down,” Harrison admitted. “I didn’t see the ball into center.”
Given the break, the Sox took advantage with Jake Jackson coming through with the break-through RBI single.
A walk to Tyler Pickett loaded the bases for Aaron Davidson who delivered a two-run single to right-center that put Bryant ahead, 3-2.
“Jake had a big hit,” Harrison asserted. “And then Aaron too.”
When Newton walked Wilson to load the bases, North Little Rock brought in Brandon Von Ohlen to pitch but he walked Hurt on four straight, forcing in Pickett before finally recording the first out of the inning.
Davidson was forced at the plate on a tap back to the mound by Sawyer but Daniel drew another walk to bring in the fifth run before the inning ended.
Sawyer, with the help of some splendid defense by Jackson on a pop into shallow right, Hurt on a slow roller to short and Kehrees on a nice pick at first, worked a 1-2-3 sixth, finishing it off with a 10-pitch battle with Dustin Pelkey that ended with a called third strike.
The Sox added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Pickett singled with one down to start the uprising. Davidson followed with a tap back to the mound. Apparently thinking that Von Ohlen was going to make a play after first, North Little Rock’s middle infielders failed to get to the second-base bag. Von Ohlen threw there and, though Pelkey took the throw in time, he wasn’t on the bag so Pickett was safe. And his relay to first wasn’t in time either.
Pickett went to third when Wilson grounded into a force at second and, after Wilson stole second, Hurt cracked an 0-2 pitch down the line in left for a double chasing both runners home.
Sawyer surrendered a lead-off single in the top of the seventh and gave way to Zuber.