By Rob Patrick
SHERIDAN, Ark. — Neither team should've scored; such was the pitching of Bryant's Jordan Taylor and Sheridan's Tyler Lathan on Saturday.
Taylor, a freshman, scattered seven hits, fanned six and walked no one. He retired the first six batters he faced and, later, had a string of seven straight he set down.
Lathan, a junior, scattered six hits, walked a pair and struck out five. He too retired the first six he faced and had another stretch of six in a row along the way.
None of the runs that scored in the game were earned.
The gut-punch for Taylor and the Hornets turned out to be that they were in position to get out of both innings in which the Yellowjackets scored, unscathed.
Sheridan won, 2-1.
The game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Taylor had retired the first two in the inning with little trouble, fanning Sawyer Dunigan and getting Josh Young to bounce to Tyler Brown at second. Ryan Bridges looped a single to left-center and, on the next pitch, Cody Clemons pulled a single to left.
Taylor, unfazed, got two strikes in on Lathan then induced a bouncer to the left of second base that looked like an inning-ending doubleplay waiting to happen as sure-handed shortstop Tyler Sawyer moved to it. No doubt anxious to make the play and get to the bag himself, however, Sawyer didn't get the ball. It went into center and Bridges scored.
Taylor got the next batter, Kurt Stamper, to tap back to the mound, keeping it 2-1 but the Hornets couldn't muster any offense beyond a two-out walk to Caleb Garrett in the top of the seventh as Lathan closed out the win.
Bryant dropped to 17-7 on the season with the non-conference loss. It was the second loss this season to the rival Yellowjackets who handed them a 3-0 loss in their second game of the year in a tournament at Benton.
The Hornets are set to host Watson Chapel, a conference rival of Sheridan's in the 6A-South Conference, on Monday before returning to the 7A-Central wars at home against Cabot in their final home game on Tuesday.
Against Sheridan, the Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the third when Brennan Bullock reached on an error then raced all the way to third when Tyler Brown's sacrifice bunt was drew a throw right into his back the ricocheted away. Justin Blankenship lashed a single to left to bring in the run.
The rest of the inning, as well as the game, was a practice in frustration for Bryant. With runners at first and second, Garrett tried to sacrifice but popped up in front of the plate. The pop didn't go very high but just enough that Sheridan catcher Shane Harrington could get to it with a full-out dive, catching it just before it hit the ground for the first out of the inning.
Garrett Bock followed with bloop single to right that loaded the bases for Hunter Mayall. Lathan and Mayall battled to a 3-2 count then the Bryant sophomore fouled off three straight pitches before cracking a chopper to third. Clemons fielded it, stepped on third and threw to first for an inning-ending doubleplay.
Sheridan managed its first hits in the bottom of the inning when Lathan and Stamper singled but Taylor fanned Zach Perkins, got lead-off man Landon Moore to pop to second then, thanks to a nice play in the hole by Sawyer, got out of the inning on a grounder.
Bryant threatened to add to the 1-0 lead in the fifth when Blankenship ripped a double to left with two down. Garrett beat out an infield hit then swiped second without a play. Bock walked to load the bases for Mayall. On the first pitch, Mayall drilled a liner that hung up just enough for Young to grab to end the inning.
Sheridan tied it in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Lathan and Stamper, again, laced back-to-back singles. With Perkins at the plate, the Hornets worked a pick-off play. The play started with first baseman Brady Butler playing behind Stamper at first. Taylor made a throw to first as Butler snuck in behind Stamper. On a bang-bang play, it was ruled that Stamper got back to the bag as Butler tagged him, bringing a vehement protest from Hornets head coach Kirk Bock.
Taking a visit to the mound, Bock used the occasion to continue the protest but to no avail. A pitch later, Perkins singled to left to load the bases.
Had the Hornets gotten the call on the pick, Moore's liner to second that Brown grabbed would've ended the inning in itself. But they had a chance to end it again as Perkins appeared to be caught breaking too far off first. But Brown's throw was in the dirt and Butler couldn't come up with it. The ball rolled a few feet away as Lathan rounded third and sprinted home. Butler fired a throw to the plate but it too was in the dirt. Catcher Kaleb Jobe tried to make the catch and turn to make the tag. Lathan came in hard and hit Jobe feet first in the mid-section. The ball laid in the dirt in front of the plate and the game was tied.
Taylor kept it there, however, by striking out Harrington who fouled off two 3-2 pitches before waving at a breaking ball to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Jobe, after being shaken up on the play at the plate, came back to lace a single to center. He was forced at second on a grounder by Sawyer but Butler pulled a single into left. Bullock grounded to second as Butler was forced out and Sawyer took third. With Brown at the plate with a 2-1 count, Bullock left for second and was tagged out on a strong throw from Harrington to end the inning.
SHERIDAN 2, BRYANT 1
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Garrett, cf 3 0 1 0 Moore, cf 3 0 0 0
Bock, dh 3 0 1 0 Harrington, c 3 0 0 0
Mayall, 3b 3 0 0 0 Dunigan, dh 3 0 0 0
Jobe, c 3 0 1 0 Young, lf 3 0 0 0
Sawyer, ss 3 0 0 0 Bridges, 1b 3 1 1 0
Butler, 1b 3 0 1 0 Clemons, 3b 3 0 1 0
Bullock, lf 3 1 0 0 Lathan, p 3 1 2 0
Brown, 2b 2 0 0 0 Stamper, rf 3 0 2 0
Blankenship, rf 3 0 2 1 Perkins, 2b 2 0 1 0
Taylor, p 0 0 0 0 Anglin, ss 0 0 0 0
Totals 26 1 6 1 Totals 26 2 7 0
BRYANT 001 000 0 — 1
Sheridan 000 011 x — 2
E—Anglin, Lathan, Brown, Sawyer. DP—Sheridan 1. LOB—Bryant 7, Sheridan 6. 2B—Blankenship. SB—Garrett, Stamper. S—Brown.
ip r er h bb so
Taylor (L, 2-1) 6 2 0 7 0 6
Lathan (W) 7 1 0 6 2 5