By Rob Patrick
It was, apparently, Cabot’s turn.
On Monday night, the Senior American Legion teams from Bryant and Cabot met for the third time already this season after the high school teams from the two towns met twice this spring.
They’ve traded wins all five times and, on the heels of Bryant’s 1-0 win on Friday at a tournament in Jonesboro, Cabot edged the Black Sox 4-2 on Monday at Bryant High School Field.[more]
Bryant had won the first meeting between the two rivals.
This time, however, Cabot was facing Bryant ace Ben Wells for the first time on the same day in which the right-hander had signed a letter of intent to play next year for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Wells fanned 14, walked just one and allowed only five hits. Cabot only managed to get baserunnings on in three innings but, in each instance, the visitors took advantage and scored.
Bryant, meanwhile, continued its recent struggles at the plate. After scoring two runs in three tournament games at Jonesboro, the Sox were blanked through six innings by the combination of Andrew Reynolds and Powell Bryant. The latter hurler got into some trouble in the bottom of the seventh but Cabot ace right-hander Matt Evans relieved and, despite allowing both runners he inherited to score, closed out the win by striking out the side around an infield hit by Chris Joiner and a walk to Brennan Bullock.
It was the Sox’ third straight loss. At 4-4, they were set to visit Lake Hamilton on Tuesday and Zone 4 rival Little Rock Continental Express on Wednesday.
Like Cabot, those teams figure to be fired up at the site of the proverbial bull’s-eye on the backs of the Bryant team, something winning a Class 7A State High School championship tends to do.
The Sox’ offensive woes continued to be merely a matter of getting a hit in the clutch. For instance, in the first inning, Jordan Taylor drew a walk with one out then Hunter Mayall slapped a single to left. With two down, Brennan Bullock singled but the ball rolled through the middle of the infield and didn’t give Taylor time to score.
Reynolds got Brady Butler to fly to right as the Sox stranded the first three of the 10 they’d leave in the game.
Wells waltzed through the first six Cabot batters, fanning four. In the third, however, he surrendered his lone walk. Brandon Surdam was the beneficiary, leading off the inning. Reynolds sacrificed him to second. Ty Steele followed with a grounder towards short. It appeared the Taylor, the Bryant shortstop, was unable to get a clean look at the ball as the field umpire had to scramble out of the way. The error put runners at the corners. Joe Bryant followed with a bloop single to center to get the first run of the game in.
With Taylor holding Steele close at second, Evans bounced a single through the spot he’d vacated to make it 2-0.
Bryant made another bid to score in the bottom of the third when Taylor singled and Mayall doubled with one out. But Reynolds fanned the next two to leave them stranded at second and third.
Wells struck out the side in the fourth and needed just eight pitches to get through the 1-2-3 fifth.
The Sox still couldn’t break through as Butler and Dylan Cross drew walks in the fourth. Mayall, who had three of Bryant’s seven hits, singled with one out in the fifth but Powell Bryant got through the inning (as well as the sixth) unscathed.
As it turned out, Cabot’s runs in the sixth and seventh proved to be the difference. In the sixth, Matt Turner cracked an 0-2 pitch from Wells for a double in the gap in right-center. Powell Bryant followed with a fly to center. With Turner tagging, Bryant’s Caleb Garrett made the catch and fired to third. But the ball got away and bounced into the third-base dugout. Turner was awarded home on the play.
Cole Nicholson would follow with a single before Wells fanned Taylor McFarlin for the third time to end the inning.
In the seventh, Surdan reached on a third-strike wild pitch, sprinting to second when Cross, the Bryant catcher, couldn’t find the ball which had skipped past the Bryant warm-up circle to the backstop extended. A passed ball got Surdam to third.
Moments later, it appeared that Wells had picked him off third. The Cabot third-base coach started to leave the field but, not only did the field umpire say he was back safely, the homeplate umpire ruled Wells had committed a balk which allowed the runner to score despite a vehement protest from Bryant coach Darren Hurt. Later, Hurt would reveal that, initially, he was on his way out to dispute the safe call then he wound up protesting the balk call.
The call stood, however, making Bryant’s comeback hill a bit more of a mountain in the bottom of the seventh. But when pinch-hitter Landon Pickett drew a walk, the Sox had hope. Pinch-runner Tanner Tolbert advanced on a wild pitch before Garrett hustled down the line to beat out an infield hit.
With runners at the corners, Evans came in. Garrett swiped second but Evans fanned Taylor and Mayall before Joiner legged out his RBI single to the right side. And when Bullock took a fourth ball in the dirt, it got away from McFarlin, the Cabot catcher, allowing Garrett to come home.
Butler came up representing the lead run but he was punched out on a high, tight pitch to end the game.
CABOT 4, BRYANT 2
Senior American Legion
Cabot ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
J.Bryant, cf 4 0 2 1 Garrett cf 4 1 1 0
Evans, 2b-lf-p 4 0 1 1 Taylor, ss 3 0 1 0
Turner, 1b 3 1 1 0 Mayall, dh 4 0 3 0
P.Bryant, lf-p 3 0 0 0 Joiner, rf 4 0 1 1
Nicholson, ss 3 0 1 0 Bullock, lf 3 0 1 0
McFarlin, c 3 0 0 0 Butler, 1b 3 0 0 0
Surdam, rf 2 2 0 0 Castleberry, 2b 3 0 0 0
Reynolds, p 1 0 0 0 Cross, c 2 0 0 0
Erickson, 2b 1 0 0 0 Brown, 3b 2 0 0 0
Steele, 3b 3 1 0 0 Pickett, ph 0 0 0 0
Tolbert, pr 0 1 0 0
Wells, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 27 4 5 2 Totals 28 2 7 1
Cabot 002 001 1 — 4
BRYANT 000 000 2 — 2
E—Taylor, Garrett. LOB—Cabot 4, Bryant 10. 2B—Mayall, Turner. SB—Butler, Garrett. S—Reynolds.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Reynolds (W) 4 0 0 4 3 3
P.Bryant 2 2 2 2 1 3
Evans (S) 1 0 0 1 1 3
Wells (L) 7 4 2 5 1 14
Balk—Wells. WP—Wells, P.Bryant, Evans. PB—Cross.