By Rob Patrick
JESSIEVILLE — In a season-opening pitchers’ duel with each team using three hurlers, the team whose pitchers showed the better control on the mound and played better defense got the win Tuesday night at R.J. “Bud” Borgshulte Field.
And that would be the Everett Black Sox of Bryant.
The trio of Wes Akers, Jason Hastings and Devin Dupree combined on a two-hit shutout as the Sox edged Hot Springs Village Sally’s Body Shop in AA (18-and-under) American Legion play.
“I thought we threw the ball well tonight,” acknowledged Everett manager Jason Thompson. “Wes threw the ball extremely well. We need that from him.”
Akers faced nine batters and struck out six of them. The only Village base-runner he allowed was on a two-out walk in the second but catcher Zach Graddy threw him out trying to steal.
Hastings, a lefty, allowed only one base-runner in two innings, giving up a one-out single to Chase Anderson. He fanned three and forced Hot Springs Village to strand Anderson at third after he advanced on an errant pickoff throw.
Dupree worked the sixth and seventh, working around a two-out triple by Kody Dailey in the sixth and a two-out error in the seventh.
“These guys haven’t had a whole lot of time the last few weeks with everybody preparing the high school varsity guys,” Thompson mentioned. “Hastings came in and did his job for two innings, did what we asked him to do then Dupree came in and closed it out. He did a fantastic job.
“What we’re trying to do now is just get these guys innings and get them ready,” he continued. “I’m happy with the pitching. We’ve got three or four more that need to get innings. We’ll do that next week against Benton.
“I thought the defense was good,” Thompson added. “We’ve got to swing it a little better. Once the swinging starts coming too, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
The Sox had six hits by six different players but they had men on base in every frame thanks to eight walks, a hit batsman and six errors by the Villagers. Bryant stranded 14.
HSV starter Dillon Brown pitched around a pair of walks in the first then a bunt single by Hastings and a tow-out hit by Korey Thompson in the second. Walks to Marcus Wilson and Cody Gogus came to naught in the third.
After Akers struck out the side in the home third, the Black Sox put up two runs in the top of the fourth with the aid of three miscues. The first allowed Hastings to reach to lead off the inning. Austin Caldwell sacrificed him to second then a wild pitch allowed him to take third. With two out, Trevor Ezell beat out a chopper to third for an RBI single.
Ezell stole second and drew an errant throw that allowed him to take third. Wilson brought him home when he lined a single to left.
Brown hit Graddy with a pitch then gave up a single to Chase Tucker in the fifth. He gave way to lefty Michael Mendez who made a splendid play on a bunt by Hastings to get a force at third. Both Mendez and third baseman Justin Gunnoe went after the ball, leaving third uncovered. Mendez scooped up the ball and raced to the bag, getting there just a split second before Graddy for the force.
Mendez worked around walks to Ezell, who was on base all five times he came up, and Akers in the sixth then gave way to another lefty, Brittan McDaniel in the seventh.
McDaniel walked Graddy and, with one out, got Hastings to bounce into a force at second. But Hastings hustled to beat the relay to first and avoid the inning-ending doubleplay. That enabled the Sox to get an insurance run in. Dupree laced a single to left then Thompson’s grounder was waved at by Gunnoe at third. Hastings scored on the error, making it 3-0.
Dupree then closed it out with a pair of strikeouts around the error in the bottom of the seventh.
The Sox play Benton in their first home game at Bryant High School Field on Wednesday, May 30.
BRYANT EVERETT BLACK SOX 3, HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE SALLY'S BODY SHOP 0
AA American Legion
Black Sox ab r h bi Hot Springs Village ab r h bi
Ezell, ss 2 1 1 1 Dailey, lf 3 0 1 0
Wilson, lf 4 0 1 1 Anderson, ss 3 0 1 0
Akers, p-1b 3 0 0 0 Mendez, cf-p 3 0 0 0
Gogus, 3b 2 0 0 0 Gunnoe, 3b 3 0 0 0
Graddy, c 2 0 0 0 Brown, p- 1b 3 0 0 0
Breeding, c 0 0 0 0 McDaniel, rf-cf-p 2 0 0 0
Tucker, cf 4 0 1 0 Mayfield, c 2 0 0 0
Hastings, 1b-p-rf 4 2 1 0 Robertson, 1b-rf 2 0 0 0
Caldwell, rf 1 0 0 0 Chandler, 2b 2 0 0 0
Dale, rf 1 0 0 0
Dupree, p 1 0 1 0
Thompson, 2b 4 0 1 0
Totals 28 3 6 2 Totals 23 0 2 0
Black Sox 000 200 1 — 3
HSV 000 000 0 — 0
E—Mayfield 2, Gunnoe, Dailey 2, Graddy, Brown. LOB—Bryant 14, Hot Springs Village 3. 3B—Dailey. SB—Ezell 2, Wilson. S—Caldwell.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Akers 3 0 0 0 1 6
Hastings (W) 2 0 0 1 0 3
Dupree (Save) 2 0 0 1 0 2
Hot Springs Village
Brown (L) 3.1 2 0 5 3 1
Mendez 2.2 0 0 0 2 2
McDaniel 1 1 1 2 2 1
HBP—Graddy (by Brown). WP—Brown.
Everett Sox 3, Hot Springs Village 0