Black Sox win league debut
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By ROB PATRICK
BENTON — There was major movement on Justin Wells’ pitches on Tuesday, May 30, when the right-hander made his pitching debut for the 2006 Bryant Black Sox AAA American Legion team. In fact, the movement was such that the Sox’ standout catcher Aaron Davidson struggled to knock some of the pitches down.
And you can imagine if they were tough to catch, they were even tougher to hit.
The Benton McClendon’s AAA team managed just two hits in fact and struck out 11 times in six innings as Wells and the Black Sox notched their first Zone 4 victory, 6-2, over their rivals on Bill Perry Field at Bernard Holland Park.
Tanner Zuber, bouncing back from a rough outing at Cabot on May 24, pitched a scoreless seventh, fanning two to close out the victory.
Wells, Devin Hurt and David Martin each drove in two runs for Bryant, which improved to 5-1 overall.
The Sox staked their ace to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Actually, Wells did much of the staking himself. Joey Winiecki led off the game against Benton’s Bennett James with a single to center. Travis Queck followed with a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed, allowing him to reach first safely.
With Wells at the plate, James uncorked a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position. Wells then clobbered a 2-2 delivery to deep right-center for a two-run double.
Davidson and Hurt drew walks and with one down, Martin fouled off four two-strike pitches before hitting a grounder to short that brought Wells home.
In the bottom of the inning, Benton’s Greg Noble greeted Wells with one of those two singles. It would be the first of just three balls the Benton batters would get out of the infield against him.
Seth Hobbs grounded into a force at second. With Mark Lewis at the plate, Wells tried to pick off Hobbs and threw wildly to first. Hobbs raced to third and when first sacker Casey Grisham’s throw to third sailed over Martin, Hobbs scored.
Wells, in turn, struck out Lewis and James to end the inning.
Benton’s second hit came in the bottom of the fourth, a lead-off single up the middle by Nick Shoptaw. Matt Samples moved the runner up with a grounder to third but Wells struck out the next two to keep it 3-1.
James gave way to Lewis on the mound for Benton in the fifth and the Sox tacked on three insurance runs. Wells was hit by a pitch and Davidson followed with a hit-and-run single. A passed ball allowed them to move to second and third to set the table for Hurt’s two-run single.
Hurt took second on the late throw home then scored when Martin drove a single up the middle on the very next pitch, making it 6-1.
Benton scored again in the sixth. Lewis reached on an error and James was hit by a pitch. Both runners advanced on a grounder to second by Shoptaw, then Lewis scored on a wild pitch. Wells fanned Samples and got Mike Long to fly to center to end the inning with a runner at third.
Zuber came on in the seventh and struck out the first two he faced. Noble beat out an infield hit but Hobbs bounced to third to end the game.