By Rob Patrick
CONWAY — Tryce Schachlin pitched a complete game one-hit shutout — in relief — then knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning as the Bryant Black Sox outlasted the Fort Smith Kerwins Sportsmen, 5-4, in the first game of a doubleheader at the University of Central Arkansas’ Bear Stadium Thursday night.
In the second game, the Sox scored in five of their six at-bats with half of their hits going for extra bases as they completed a sweep, 11-4.
Now 7-0, the Sox are set to travel to the Battle of Omaha tournament held annual in conjunction with the College World Series in the Nebraska city. They play at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 21, though manager Darren Hurt said he was hoping to add a game before the trip, perhaps on Monday, June 18.
The last time Bryant met Kerwins, it was in the semifinals of the Senior American Legion State Tournament. After knocking the Fort Smith team, which was loaded with college talent, into the loser’s bracket in the second round, the Sox ended the Sportsmen’s season with a dramatic 8-7 win.
Kerwins is a regional team and often has very few players actually from Fort Smith itself but it’s always among the best in the state, which, understandably, increased the intensity level for the Sox.
“We could see that from the very start,” acknowledged Hurt. “The kids were ready to play. It took it out of them; don’t get me wrong. When we played the second game, both teams were kind of wearing down there at the end. Nobody anticipated playing 19 innings tonight.”
One of the few holdovers from that team, right-handed pitcher Bailey Nash started the opener against the Sox and dueled with Bryant right-hander Tyler Nelson over the first five innings.
The Sox built a 3-0 lead but Kerwins finally scratched against Nelson for a run in the fifth. Jordan Taylor took over in the fifth and the Sportsmen started going to the opposite field, stringing together five straight hits to tie the game 3-3. Schalchlin entered at that point and induced a doubleplay play as the go-ahead run scored then got out of it with a pop to second.
The right-hander only allowed three baserunners over the next six innings. He worked around an error with two out in the seventh, overcame a two-out double by Wesley Larue in the ninth and got past a lead-off walk in the 11th, getting the final out with a runner at third.
He fanned three, walked one and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
“He came in and settled things down, bases loaded, no outs and ended up giving up one run, which kept us in striking range,” Hurt noted. “He just threw a gem from there on.”
And, in the bottom of the 12th, Nelson drew a lead-off walk, stole second, took third on an errant throw and Schalchlin ripped a single to left on a 2-2 pitch from Kerwins reliever Justin Sunde to win it.
Catcher Hayden Lessenberry, who had a tremendous State Tournament performance last year, obviously felt right at home against the Sportsmen as he cracked a pair of hits. Tyler Brown and Ozzie Hurt had two each as the Sox racked up 13 in the game.
“Offensively, we did a lot of good things,” Darren Hurt observed. “We got some bunts down, which is huge for us because we need to scratch runs when we can. The right guys got up at the right time and laid down a couple of safety squeezes and things like that. We had a few times when we needed sac-flies and got them. Early in the first game, Nelson had a two-strike at-bat where he just hit a ground ball to the right side but he moved a runner to third. We scored on a sac-fly right after that.”
That came in the very first inning. Hunter Mayall had led off with a double and Nelson fouled off a 1-2 pitch before pulling a grounder to second to get Mayall to third. Taylor followed with the sacrifice fly to left for the game’s first run.
Nelson had given up a one-out single in the top of the inning to Matt Turner, who made it to second when the ball took a sideways hop past Josh Pultro in right. But Nelson picked Turner off second as Taylor snuck in behind him then Ozzie Hurt made a nice play to retire Nick Walker.
The Bryant right-hander set down the side in order in the second and gave up a two-out walk in the third that was erased by Lessenberry when the baserunner, Max Schaffer, tried to steal second.
Nelson overcame another walk in the fourth on three straight force-outs and the Sox got to Nash for two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Taylor singled and Landon Pickett lined a double inside the line in left. With one out, Lessenberry singled in a run then Pickett scored when Brown got down a well-executed squeeze bunt, making it 3-0.
Spencer McClure walked to start the top of the fifth and Conrad Carr followed with a single to send him to third. Nelson battled back with consecutive strikeouts before Schaffer dumped a single into left to drive in McClure. Nelson picked off Carr, however, to end the inning.
The fifth began with a fisted single to right by Sunde. Base hits by Matt Turner, Nick Walker, Brady Bradley and McClure followed as Kerwins tied the game. The go-ahead run scored on the doubleplay and the game wound up going to the seventh with the Sox trailing.
Brown’s second single started Bryant’s rally. Hayden Daniel blooped a single to right then Ozzie Hurt, bunting to move the runners over, placed one perfectly up the third-base line for a single. With the bags juiced, Mayall made a bid to win it with a lined shot that was speared by Turner at short. But then Nash walked Nelson to force in a run as the Kerwins’ fans and coaches voiced their displeasure with the strike zone — a theme that would develop further in the second game.
Schalchlin made a bid to win it too but his liner to second was caught by D.J. Turner who turned it into an inning-ending doubleplay catching Ozzie Hurt trying to get back to second.
While Schalchlin was shackling the Sportsmen, the Sox threatened again in the ninth when Nash ran out of gas. He hit Brown then walked Daniel to start the frame but Sunde came in to retire the side including a pair of strikeouts.
Pulto walked in the 10th to no effect then the Sox got a chance to win again in the 11th. Another lead-off single by Brown and a sacrifice by Hurt put him in scoring position for Marcus Wilson, who shot a single to right-center. Brown came around to try to score but a strong throw from Jonathan Smith in right nabbed him at the plate to end the inning.
But Schalchlin and the defense kept Kerwins from capitalizing on the momentum with a 1-2-3 top of the 12th, setting up the game-winner in the bottom of the inning.
In the nightcap, Kerwins managed an unearned run in the top of the first off Bryant starter Nate Rutherford. Matt Turner tripled with one out. But Rutherford had him picked off third only to miss connections with Brown on the pick-off throw, allowing Turner to score.
In the bottom of the inning, Mayall walked and Nelson beat out a bunt single to get the Sox off to a good start. But when Mayall saw that third base was left uncovered, he made a dash to advance further. He beat Smith, the third baseman, to the bag but, on the all-turf infield, he slid past the base and was tagged out.
Taylor lashed the first of his two doubles, though, and a wild pitch allowed Nelson to score the tying run.
Taylor followed when Pickett’s bouncer to first resulted in a bad connection between McClure, the first baseman, and the pitcher, Landon Turner.
After Brown singled and a wild pitch put runners at second and third, Daniel got a bunt down as he squeeze home Pickett to make it 3-1.
Rutherford worked around a two-out walk in the top of the second and the Sox went back to work at the plate. Zach Graddy, who had two hits in the game, blasted a triple to right-center. Turner then started to struggle with his control, though he obviously blamed the strike zone of the veteran central Arkansas umpire, who has never given the low strike. The visitors renewed their complaints as Hurt, Mayall and Nelson each walked to force in a run.
Along the way, a pitch down the middle got through catcher Kyle Peters and hit the umpire flush in the chest. Peters retrieved the ball and headed out to the mound to talk to his pitcher and give the umpire a moment to recuperate, as per baseball etiquette, but, after a pause, the umpire followed him out and proceeded to give a warning. Spurred, perhaps, by either the pitcher’s body language or complaints from the catcher about the strike zone, the umpire apparently felt that the pitch had been missed by the catcher on purpose. The Kerwins manager came out and protested vehemently and the complaints intensified the rest of the game, right down to the last play.
Hurt wound up scoring on a wild pitch to make it 5-1 and when the count went to 2-0 on Taylor, Schaffer was brought in to pitch. After completing the walk to Taylor, he was able to get out of the jam with no further damage.
And the Sportsmen trimmed two runs off the lead in the top of the third on a bases-loaded single by Bradley. But Rutherford kept it at that, fielding a comebacker off the bat of Larue for the final out.
Bryant got them back in the home third when Wilson singled and, off with the pitch, scored all the way from first on a long double by Graddy. Hurt sacrificed and Graddy scored on Mayall’s hot grounder to first.
D.J. Turner singled, stole second, went to third on a base hit by Peters and scored on a groundout by Sunde to make it 7-4. In turn, Taylor lashed his second double, tagged and went to third on a long fly to center by Pickett then scored on a bouncer to short by Brown to make it a four-run game.
Rutherford surrendered a triple to Walker to lead off the fifth but then forced the Sportsmen to leave him there as he fanned McClure, got Bradley to pop to first then struck out Larue.
It was the start of a strong finish by the Bryant right-hander who wound up retired the last six batters he faced before giving way to Josh Pultro in the seventh.
Bryant added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth when Pickett unloaded on a 1-0 delivery form Schaffer for a two-run bomb to deep left-center. Taylor, who had been hit by a pitch, scoring in front of him.
A walk to Brown followed then Daniel looped a single to right. Wilson then hit a bouncer to second. Kerwins got a force then, trying to turn a doubleplay, shortstop Matt Turner’s relay to first was off-target. Brown rounded third and came home diving in safely on a bang-bang play as the ball was recovered and fired home.
More protests rained down on the homeplate umpire at that point but it wasn’t over. In the bottom of the inning, Sunde greeted Pultro with a double. Matt Turner flew out to Schalchlin in right then Walker struck out. McClure fanned too but the third strike was in the dirt and got past Graddy. He scrambled to get to the ball and threw to first only to hit McClure.
Pickett tracked the ball down as Sunde, running aggressively desite the 11-4 deficit, rounded third and headed home. Pickett relayed back to Graddy and, on another close play, Sunde was punched out to renew the complaints as the long evening concluded with a drawer full of happy Sox.
BRYANT BLACK SOX 5, FORT SMITH KERWINS SPORTSMEN 4, 12 innings
Senior American Legion
Sportsmen ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Sunde, cf-p 5 1 1 0 Mayall, lf 3 1 1 0
M.Turner, ss 5 1 2 0 Wilson, lf 3 0 1 0
Walker, dh 4 1 1 1 Nelson, p-ss 4 1 1 1
Smith, rf 1 0 0 0 Taylor, ss-p 2 1 1 1
Bradley, c 4 0 1 1 Schalchlin, p 3 0 1 1
McClure, rf-cf 3 1 1 0 Pickett, 1b 5 1 1 0
Carr, 1b 5 0 1 0 Pultro, rf 4 0 0 0
D.Turner, 2b 5 0 0 0 Lessenberry, c 5 0 2 1
Larue, lf 5 0 1 0 Brown, 3b 3 1 2 1
Schaffer, 3b 4 0 1 1 Daniel, cf 4 0 1 0
Nash, p 0 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b 4 0 2 0
Totals 41 4 9 3 Totals 39 5 13 5
FS Kerwins 000 013 000 000 — 4
BRYANT 100 200 100 001 — 5
No one out when winning run scored.
E—Pultro, Schalchlin, Bradley. DP—Bryant 1, Fort Smith 2. LOB—Bryant 10, Fort Smith 6. 2B—Mayall, Pickett, Larue. SB—Nelson 2. S—Brown, Hurt, McClure. SF—Taylor.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Nash 8 4 4 10 2 0
Sunde (L) 3 1 1 3 2 4
Nelson 5 1 1 3 3 2
Taylor 0 3 3 5 0 0
Schalchlin (W) 7 0 0 1 1 3
Nash faced two batters in the ninth.
Sunde faced two batters in the 12th
Taylor faced five batters in the sixth.
HBP—Brown (by Nash). PB—Lessenberry.
BRYANT BLACK SOX 11, FORT SMITH KERWINS SPORTSMEN 4
Senior American Legion
Sportsmen ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Sunde, cf 4 0 1 1 Mayall, dh 2 0 0 1
M.Turner, ss 3 2 1 0 Nelson, cf 3 1 1 1
Walker, dh 4 1 2 0 Schalchlin, rf 0 0 0 0
McClure, 1b 3 0 0 0 Taylor, ss 2 3 2 0
Bradley, lf 3 0 1 2 Pickett, 1b 4 2 1 3
Larue, rf 3 0 0 0 Brown, 3b 3 1 1 1
Nash, rf 0 0 0 0 Daniel, rf-cf 3 0 2 1
D.Turner, 2b 2 1 1 0 Wilson, lf 4 1 1 0
Peters, c 3 0 1 0 Graddy, c 4 2 2 1
Smith, 3b 3 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b 1 1 0 0
L.Turner, p 0 0 0 0 Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0
Schaffer, p 0 0 0 0 Pultro, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 28 4 7 3 Totals 26 11 10 8
Fort Smith 102 100 0 — 3
BRYANT 322 103 x — 11
E—Rutherford, L.Turner, Wilson, M.Turner. LOB—Bryant 6, Fort Smith 6. 2B—Taylor 2, Graddy, Sunde. 3B—M.Turner, Graddy, Walker. HR—Pickett. SB—Hurt, D.Turner, Daniel. S—Daniel, Hurt.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
L.Turner (L) 1 5 4 4 5 0
Schaffer 5 5 5 6 1 1
Rutherford (W) 6 4 3 6 2 5
Pultro 1 0 0 1 0 2
L.Turner faced five batters in the second.
HBP—M.Turner (by Rutherford), Taylor (by Schaffer). WP—L.Turner 3, Schaffer.
Bryant sweeps Fort Smith