Will McEntire and Christian Harp combined on a five-inning no-hitter Tuesday night to cap off the Bryant Black Sox’ doubleheader sweep of the Russellville Pirates in Junior American Legion play at Bryant High School Field. The gem followed Konnor Clontz’ two-hit shutout in the first game.
The Sox improved to 10-3 on the season with 8-0 and 10-0 wins heading into a game tonight at Fort Smith.
McEntire, who along with teammate Jake Wright, has been tabbed to play in the 14th annual Xtra Inninigs Summer Classic, which features the top underclassmen in Arkansas, June 19-20 in Jonesboro, started game two with a pitch count limit and eased through the first two innings. Harp took over in the third and finished the gem. The duo faced the minimum. The only base-runner was Russellville’s Jack Snider, who reached first on an error with two down in the top of the first. Moments later, however, Snider tried to steal second and was thrown out by catcher Ryan Lessenberry to end the inning.
The next 12 Pirates batters were retired in order. McEntire fanned four and Harp three.
In the opener, Clontz worked around five walks and a hit batsman, fanned four and only allowed singled to Cole Dawson in the their and Connor Cole in the fourth.
But the walks and two Bryant errors had the right-hander working under duress the whole game.
After issuing a walk to Kaleb Tramel with two down in the first inning, his catcher Cade Drennan threw him out trying to steal just as Lessenberry would in the opening inning of game two.
Clontz worked around a walk and an error in the second. In the third, Russellville loaded the bases on Dawson’s single, a hit batsmen and a walk. But Harp made a sparkling play at third to get a force at second before the walk. After the walk loaded the bases, Clontz struck out Eli Thomas to end the inning.
In the fourth, a walk and Cole’s two-out single had runners at the corners with Dawson coming to the plate with two out. Clontz got Dawson to fly to Jarod Yarborough in right to keep the Pirates off the board.
Even in the fifth, an error and a one-out walk had the Bryant sidewinder in trouble. But he ended it with a strikeout and a liner that Logan Catton snatched out of the air to end the game.
“Pitching-wise, we’ve been fantastic all year,” stated Sox manager Tyler Brown. “Defensively, we’ve been pretty good. At the plate, we just need to keep having good AB’s and get better from there.
“We’re getting better every game,” he declared. “You can see the improvement from game one. We’re really just getting better at the dish and coming together as a team and figuring out what we want to do — just playing the game the right way, the way we know how to play it. As long as we do that, we’ll be able to win a lot of ballgames before it’s all said and done.”
The Sox had eight hits in the first game and five in the second but it seemed like they always came at the right time.
In the first contest, Brayden Lester and Jacob Coppock drove in two runs apiece. The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first when Clontz singled and took second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. He held at second when McEntire singled on the infield with one down.
Thomas, the Pirates’ starter on the bump, followed with a pair of wild pitches that allowed Clontz to score.
It was 1-0 until the bottom of the third. With one out, Catton singled to center. Though he was forced at second on a grounder to third by McEntire, the Sox commenced with a two-out rally.
Harp blooped a single to center then Drennan slapped a base hit to right. When the ball was bobbled in the outfield, McEntire scored.
A wild pitch allowed runners to move to second and third. An ill-advised throw to third by the Pirates’ catcher Tramel, was errant and Harp scored to make it 3-0.
Lester singled in Coby Greiner, in as a courtesy runner for Drennan, then Coppock ripped a 1-0 pitch into the right-field corner for an RBI triple to make it 5-0.
The Sox made it a run-rule lead in the fourth. With one down, Clontz singled to left and stole second. Catton walked. McEntire’s roller was picked up by Thomas. He threw for a force at second but the relay to first. Meanwhile, Clontz never slowed down. He rounded third and scored, beating the late throw to the plate.
The uprising continued with Harp getting plunked by a 1-2 pitch. Drennan walked to load the bases then Lester was struck by a 1-1 delivery to force in the seventh tally. Dawson relieved Thomas but walked Coppock to force in Harp, making it 8-0.
In the second contest, Bryant, again, took a 1-0 lead in the first. This time, Catton reached on an error with one out. Logan Chambers doubled into the left-field corner then Harp picked up the RBI with a groundout to second.
Greiner opened the second frame with a lined single to right. He stole second and when the pitch was in the dirt and got by catcher Justin Loveless, he continued on to third. With one out, Cade Dupree walked then McEntire hit slow roller to third. A wild throw to first got Greiner home and put runners at second and third.
Clontz walked to load the bases. Catton walked to force in a run. Chambers was struck by a pitch to earn an RBI and Harp walked to force in Clontz to make it 5-0. With two down, Greiner came up again and drilled a single to drive in two more.
In the third, Dupree walked, took second on a wild pitch, third on Drennan’s grounder to first and home on Clontz’ single.
Peyton Dillon was hit by a pitch from Pirates’ reliever Lance Millsaps with one out in the fourth. Greiner walked and Coppock shot an RBI single to right that was mishandled enough to allow Greiner to score the 10th run of the game.