Photos courtesy of Crissy McEntire
As in most sports, if you’ll take what the opponent is giving you, success is often the result.
Along with tremendous pitching by Madison McEntire and Logan Grant, who combined on a one-hit shutout, the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team took what the defense of the Benton Everett Buick-GMC Senior team gave them and came away with a 10-0 victory on Tuesday night at Bryant High School Field.
It was tough night for Benton. They wound up giving the Sox a lot — 10 walks, five errors and two hit batsmen. Bryant needed just five hits to forge the run-rule win capped by an RBI single by Ryan Lessenberry on his second pinch-hitting appearance of the sixth inning.
McEntire faced one over the minimum in his three innings on the mound. The only Benton base-runner was Beau Brewer who was hit by a pitch with two outs in the first.
The right-hander fanned five and got some nice defensive support from Logan Chambers who made a bare-handed pickup of a weak pop the fell in behind the mound off the bat of Braden Carmen to open the game; Slade Renfrow, who had a hard grounder off the bat of Trey Miller come up on him at the last moment; and Cade Drennan, usually a catcher, who dug out a short-hop throw from Braden Lester at third for the third out of the third inning.
Grant relieved in the fourth and Eli Williams greeted him with a single to left on a 2-2 pitch. Grant followed up by retiring all nine batters faced, eight of them on strikes, finishing with six in a row.
“Mac was maybe not spotting up like he would if he was in mid-season form,” said Sox manager Darren Hurt. “But, for being off for a few weeks and just throwing a couple of ‘pens here and there, I thought he threw real well.
“LG looked really good too,” he added. “They both did a really good job.”
Offensively, the Sox put together a pair of five-run innings. The second-inning outburst was helped along by three walks and four Benton errors. The free passes came in succession to start the inning as Grant, Renfrow and Lester reached base. Coby Greiner followed with a sacrifice fly that was dropped in left.
Logan Chambers followed with a grounder to Williams at second. He tossed to Carmen for the force on Greiner but the relay to first in an attempt for a doubleplay was wild. Renfrow scored then so did Lester, making it 3-0.
Chambers, who wound up at second, scored on a single by Drennan. And when the throw from the outfield to the plate was late and errant, Drennan wound up at second. He came in on a base hit by Jake Wright.
“We took advantage of some mistakes and a lot of walks,” Hurt noted. “And we also squared a lot of balls up early in the game right at people. We had a lot of good AB’s.
“Then, kind of in the middle of the game, we went to sleep offensively and started taking hacks in two-strike counts and stuff like that,” he added. “It looked to me like we were border-line trying to have a homerun derby up there. With 2-0 counts, we want them taking aggressive cuts but not 2-2. We just didn’t have productive at-bats in the middle of the game at all. Late in the game, we kind of got it zoned back in. They were a lot more disciplined late in the game.”
That developed in the sixth, which started with a lined single to left by Greiner. Chambers yanked a base hit to right and when it was misplayed, Greiner scored. Chambers wound up at third.
Walks to Logan Catton, Drennan and Wright forced him home. Tristan Hammonds, the second Benton pitcher, gave way to Shawn Small but his first pitch struck Gage Stark, forcing in yet another run. A walk to Grant made it 9-0.
With the infield and the outfield in trying to cut off the game-ending run, Renfrow hit a tapper to Adam Sims at first. He threw home for a force on Wright but catcher Blake Ferrell had no other play.
Lessenberry had opened the inning with a pinch-hit strikeout but his turn came around again and, on an 0-1 pitch, he yanked a hot shot off the tip of the third baseman’s glove that finished off the rout.
Now 3-0 on the season, the Sox are off until Tuesday when they are set to play a doubleheader against Fort Smith. The game will either be played at BHS or at Bear Field at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.