By Rob Patrick
HOT SPRINGS — Blake Patterson stepped up with a three-hit shutout as the Everett Black Sox[more] of Bryant stayed alive in their quest for a bid to the Junior American Legion State Tournament. The Sox scratched out a 2-0 win over the Sheridan Yellowjackets in an elimination game at Lakeside High School, coming back at suffering their first loss of the season earlier in the day then waiting through a rain delay of over an hour.
Bryant is set to play the host team on Monday at 2:30 p.m., with the winner earning a bid to State and advancing to the loser’s bracket final at 7:30 against either Texarkana or the Little Rock Cobras, whichever loses in the winner’s bracket final on Monday at 5.
The championship round will be held on Tuesday.
“It was a long, tough day,” stated Everett manager Tyler Brown. “We had to bounce back after our first loss of the season today. We battled through it and all that matters is that ‘W’ we got tonight.
“But everything’s in the past including that win,” he emphasized. “That’s what I told the guys, that win means nothing now. The next thing on the agenda is 2:30 tomorrow. We come ready to play and whatever happens happens.”
Patterson, struck out six, walked four and hit a batter.
“The most I think he’s thrown all year was about four innings,” Brown recalled. “We needed every pitch of his tonight. He did a heck of a job. He saved us some pitching by going all seven and threw a goose egg up there. He did a great job. He competed the whole game.
“The big thing is we had another goose egg up there on the far right column, in the error column,” he noted. “That was a big improvement. We’ve really struggled in the field the last three games. That has to improve and it did tonight.”
Patterson also contributed two of Bryant’s seven hits, driving in the team’s second run. Devin Dupree knocked in the first one as Sheridan right-hander Andrew Clark was nearly as stingy as Patterson, though he walked six.
The Sox came into the day averaging 9.9 runs per game as they compiled their 23-0 mark. The two runs in the 6-2 loss to Little Rock’s Cobras on Sunday morning was a season low in a game. Two was enough in the second contest but still well below they’re usual output. Brown, however, wasn’t concerned.
“Not at all,” he asserted. “It’s the first two games that we’ve really struggled all year. It’s not that big of an issue to me right now. It won’t be no matter what happens. I know these kids can hit. They know they can hit.”
Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Evan Lee earned a two-out walk and Patterson singled to right. Dupree laced an 0-1 pitch into the gap in left-center for an RBI double.
Clark pitched around a one-out double by Dalton Holt in the third. In the fourth, Brandan Warner reached on an error and stole second. Jordan Gentry walked and Warner tried to swipe third but was caught by Sheridan catcher Evan Thompson.
Walks to Harrison Dale and Connor Tatum loaded the bases but Clark and the Jackets escaped when third baseman Caleb McMunn robbed Drew Tipton of a hit.
Meanwhile, Patterson retired the first four Sheridan batters before running into trouble in the second. Clark walked and McKinley Williams singled with one out. Patterson fanned Zach Glidden but hit Cory Walker with a pitch to load the bases. When Renner Smith bounced to Tatum at short, Patterson and the Sox had avoided giving up the tying tally.
Sheridan made a bid to get on the board again in the third when, with one out, McMunn singled, took second on Lathan Wylie’s sacrifice bunt and third on a single by Thompson. With Clark at the plate, a pitch got past Holt, the Sox catcher. But he hustled after it and tossed to Patterson at the plate in time to nab McMunn for the third out.
Patterson eased around a one-out walk in the fourth then retired the side in order in the top of the fifth.
Bryant tacked on the insurance run in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Lee hit a roller to the right side that Smith, the Sheridan second baseman, charged hard and fielded. But he fired a throw to first from about 10 feet away and it got past Glidden. So Lee was on with one out. Patterson followed with a shot to right-center that went all the way to the wall. Lee sprinted all the way around to score as Patterson pulled in with a double.
The shutout was again threatened in the top of the sixth. With one out, Thompson walked. With two down, McKinley Williams walked. A wild pitch moved both, representing the potential tying runs, into scoring position with pinch-hitter David Rainwater at the plate.
Rainwater and Patterson battled to a 3-2 count. Rainwater fouled off a pair of two-strike deliveries but then Bryant worked a pickoff play to second, catching Williams trying to dive back to the bag for the third out.
Clark kept his team in it for the seventh when he worked around a two-out single by Tatum and a walk to Tipton.
Patterson closed it out in the seventh with a pair of strikeouts and a pop to Lee in shallow left.
BRYANT EVERETT 2, SHERIDAN 0
Zone 4 Junior Tournament
Yellowjackets ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Bibb, cf 3 0 0 0 Tipton, 2b 3 0 1 0
McMunn, 3b 3 0 1 0 Holt, c-1b 4 0 1 0
Wylie, ss 2 0 0 0 Lee, lf 2 2 0 0
Thompson, c 2 0 1 0 Patterson, p 3 0 2 1
Clark, p 2 0 0 0 Dupree, 1b 3 0 1 1
Williams, rf 1 0 1 0 Breeding, c 0 0 0 0
Glidden, 1b 2 0 0 0 Warner, 3b 3 0 1 0
Rainwater, 1b 1 0 0 0 Gentry, 2b 2 0 0 0
Walker, lf 2 0 0 0 Dale, rf 2 0 0 0
Smith, 2b 3 0 0 0 Tatum, ss 2 0 1 0
Totals 21 0 3 0 Totals 24 2 7 2
Sheridan 000 000 0 — 0
BRYANT 100 010 x — 2
E—Glidden, Smith. LOB—Sheridan 6, Bryant 9. 2B—Dupree, Holt, Patterson. SB—Warner. S—Wylie.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Clark (L) 6 2 1 7 6 2
Patterson (W) 7 0 0 3 4 6
HBP—Walker (by Patterson). WP—Patterson.