Picket puts the clamps on late as Hornets edge Clermont, Fla., team, 4-3
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
Photos courtesy of Phil Pickett
SANFORD, Fla. — The East Ridge Knights of Clermont, Fla., had just cut the Bryant Hornets’ lead to one run in[more] the top of the fourth. With two out and the bases empty, Knights’ catcher Austin Rodriguez drilled a triple to give his team a chance to tie the game.
But Bryant’s senior right-hander Landon Pickett left Rodriguez standing there when he ended the inning by striking out Erik Birklund and he left the Knights standing a run short by finishing with three hitless innings in the Hornets’ 4-3 win.
Bryant finishes pool play with a 3-0 record and the Hornets will face East Ridge in a rematch for the championship game Friday night at 7 EDT. It was the Hornets’ 10th win in 12 games this season.
Tyler Nelson and Hayden Lessenberry each drove in two runs for the Hornets who were limited to six hits by East Ridge’s Jason Reffitt and Geraldo Coriano. A three-run second against Reffitt gave Bryant the early lead.
After both teams were retired in order in the first, Pickett worked around a two-out walk in the second. In the bottom of the inning, Dylan Cross bounced a single into left with one down. Chris Joiner lined a single to right then Josh Pultro was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lessenberry delivered the first run with a sacrifice fly. As Cross scored on the play, Joiner tagged and went to third.
Reffitt then loaded the bags again when he hit Evan Jobe with a pitch. That’s when Nelson chased Joiner and Pultro home with a solid single to center.
East Ridge got one of those runs back in the top of the third. Rodriguez singled and Birklund sacrificed him to second. After Jack Curtis flew out to left, Pickett got a strike away from finishing the inning unscathed. But his 2-2 pitch to Billy Dunn was driven for an RBI double.
Pickett came back by striking out number three hitter Bo Decker to keep it 3-1.
And Bryant got that run back in the bottom of the frame. Jordan Taylor reached on an error to start the inning. He was retired on a force out as Pickett grounded to short. Courtesy runner Hayden Daniel went to second as Cross earned a walk then to third on a free pass to Joiner. Pultro followed with a grounder to second. The Knights were able to get a force at second but Pultro beat the relay to first as Daniel scored to make it 4-1.
The top of the fourth began with back-to-back doubles by Reffitt and Esmerlyn Pena to make it 4-2. Adam Ordonez sacrificed courtesy runner Andrew Ornes to third and he scored from there when Chris Brinson bounced out to Nelson at short.
That’s when Rodriguez tripled only to be stranded.
The strikeout to end the inning began a string in which Pickett retired six in a row before issuing a two-out walk to Ordonez in the sixth. In the seventh, he fanned Rodriguez and Birklund then issued a walk to Curtis. But Dunns flew out to end the game.
For the Hornets, Brown singled with two out in the fourth and Joiner walked in the fifth as Coriano took over on the mound for East Ridge. In the sixth, Pultro and Jobe each had singles but Marcus Wilson, in to run for Pultro, was caught stealing before Jobe’s hit.