Bryant finishes regular season with rally past PB
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By ROB PATRICK
The Bryant Hornets’ final home game couldn’t have gone much better. Coming off their worst loss of the season, the Hornets rallied to overcome a 3-2 deficit against the Pine Bluff Zebras for a 4-3 win capped by a sprint from first to the plate by senior Trent Daniel on a clutch one-out double to the gap in left-center off the bat of senior Cody Walker in the bottom of the seventh.
The Hornets improved to 16-6 on the season and were set to open play at State as the No. 4 seed from the 7A-Central Conference, taking on Van Buren, the No. 5 seed from the 7A-West, in the first round at DeJanis Field in Burns Park, North Little Rock. State was set to begin on Friday, May 9.
“It was a good win to finish off with, it should give us a little momentum going into the State tournament and it’s a great way to send off the older guys,” acknowledged Hornets coach Terry Harper who, along with assistant Kris Clark, joined seniors Daniel, Walker, Jake Jackson, David Guarno, Jordan Knight, Nick Suggs, Anthony Raby, Jeremy Burge and Preston Adami in marking their final Hornets home game.
“I’m proud of every one of them, the ones that have been there the whole time and no matter what role they had, they fought for us,” Harper said. “I’m proud of the fact that we won a close game. A couple of things didn’t go right for us early, we gave up a couple of unearned runs but we hung in there. Drew Ransdell came up huge, Trent pitched a good game.”
Ransdell, a junior, snapped out of an 0-for-10 slump by cracking three doubles, driving in two of the Hornets’ runs and scoring a third.
Daniel went the distance on the mound, walking just one and striking out 14. He allowed six hits including three scratch singles in the fifth inning when the Zebras managed their lone earned run.
The Hornets loaded the bases with two down in the first but couldn’t score.
In the second, however, Ransdell’s two-out double and a two-bagger by Jake Jackson moments later put them on the board.
Pine Bluff tied it in the top of the third. Daniel struck out Tristan DeWalt on a pitch in the dirt to start the inning but when the throw to first by catcher Kaleb Jobe was errant, DeWalt reached safely. An out later, Brandon Arnold lined a triple to the fence in right-center to chase him home.
Daniel, faced with the top of the Pine Bluff batting order with a runner at third, fanned the next two batters to keep it tied.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Hornets edged ahead again. With two down, Nick Suggs worked Zebras starter Kenny Marshall for a walk. He scored all the way from first on Ransdell’s second two-bagger, a shot to left-center.
Pine Bluff’s tying rally in the fifth began with a one-out chopper over Tyler Sawyer’s head at third by DeWalt. D.Q. Campbell followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt but when Daniel slipped to the ground on his way to fielding the ball, it went for a hit. When Sebastian Stargell beat out an infield hit to the right side, the bases were juiced. A wild pitch allowed the run to score but, after a walk to Brandon Maddox, Daniel got Jessie Blackstock to pop out to Ransdell behind first as the Zebras stranded three.
After the Hornets failed to take advantage of a two-out double by Walker in the bottom of the fifth, Pine Bluff took the lead in the sixth. Anthony Graham led off with a double. Cameron Luckett followed with a bouncer to short. Walker threw out Luckett at first then Graham took off for third and Ransdell’s return throw sailed beyond Sawyer’s reach, allowing Graham to score.
But the Hornets tied it in the home half of the frame when Knight drew a lead-off walk, Suggs sacrificed him to second and Ransdell laced an RBI double down the left-field line.
Daniel surrendered a lead-off single to Campbell in the top of the seventh then proceeded to strike out the side to set up the Hornets’ winning rally.
Afterward, Harper, who played for the Hornets during his high school days, reflected on his final home game as the Bryant skipper, “It hadn’t hit me quite yet. I just haven’t had a chance to really sit down and think about it. We’ve been working pretty hard. It’s something I’m definitely going to miss. It’s been a part of my life for 25 or 30 years.”