Sears tosses no-hitter to complete Senior Sox’ sweep

Blaine Sears fired a five-inning no-hitter, facing one over the minimum as the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team finished off a doubleheader sweep of Lake Hamilton at Bryant High School Field on Tuesday night.

The Sox won behind Sears, 12-0, after Josh Turner went the distance in an 8-3 win in the opener.

The victories extended the Sox’ winning streak to seven games that included the championship of the Mid-Summer Showcase in Memphis over the weekend.

They’re scheduled to be off until a July 7 doubleheader against Paragould at BHS in a rematch of last summer’s State championship game.

Bryant 12, Lake Hamilton 0

Sears only allowed two baserunners in the nightcap, a walk to lead off the second, which was erased on a line-drive to second baseman Noah Davis that he turned into a doubleplay. That came moments after Aaron Morgan made a fine running catch of a foul fly to right.

Slade Renfrow helped preserve Sears’ gem with a catch in deep left. Brayden Lester, at first, combined with Sears on a good play for the first out of the fifth.

One strike away from finishing off the run-rule win, Sears hit a batter. But, on the next pitch, he induced a grounder to second that resulted in a force to end the contest. The right-hander needed just 44 pitches to wade through the Lake Hamilton lineup. He fanned three.

The contrast in pitching was stark. A trio of Lake Hamilton hurlers issued 11 walks and hit three Black Sox batters in four innings. Bryant used five hits to piece together the rout. Morgan had a pair of RBI singles. When the game was still scoreless, Peyton Dillon drilled a triple to lead off the second, sparking a three-run uprising. Logan Catton and Cade Drennan had the other hits, both singles that started the game-busting seven-run fourth for the Sox.

Following Dillon’s triple to start the second, Cody Greiner drew a walk and stole second. Lester followed with a great bunt on a squeeze play. And when catcher Dylan Horton couldn’t field it cleanly, Lester was aboard. 

Morgan walked to load the bases and Connor Martin delivered a sacrifice fly to right to make it 2-0. Lester scored on a wild pitch as Davis was drawing a walk.

In the third, walks to Drennan and Dillon started another burst. Greiner sacrificed to get runners to second and third and, after Lester drew a walk to load the bases, Morgan cracked a humpback liner to left to make it 4-0. 

A walk to Martin forced in another run.

The seventh started with the singles by Catton and Drennan. When Drennan’s shot to right was misplayed, Catton hustled home and Drennan wound up at second. Lawson Speer came on as a courtesy runner for Drennan. He took third on a wild pitch and, after Dillon walked, another wild pitch allowed Speer to score, making it 7-0.

Another walk to Greiner forced a pitching change. On the first pitch to Lester, Joey Kelzer hit him to load the bases for Morgan, who delivered another RBI single. 

With one out, Renfrow walked to force in a run then a wild pitch got Lester in. Catton was struck by a pitch to fill the sacks again then Drennan drew an RBI walk and Ethan Andrews was struck by an 0-2 delivery for the final RBI.

Bryant 8, Lake Hamilton 3

Turner surrendered two runs on four hits and a walk in the first inning. After that, he only allowed one unearned run in the fourth.

But Lake Hamilton’s starter Austin Hale was tough on the Sox for a while. Speer, batting in the nine hole, proved to be an instigator. He picked up Bryant’s first hit on a chopper over Hale’s head to lead off the third. Davis was struck by a pitch then Ryan Riggs sacrificed runners to second and third. Catton’s grounder to short got Speer home, cutting the lead to 2-1 at that point.

A pair of errors and a two-out RBI single by Connor Cheek added to Lake Hamilton’s lead. A diving catch of a pop into shallow left by Davis, who was ranging out from short, helped keep it to one run.

In the fifth, Brayden Clark singled for Lake Hamilton but, on a comebacker to Turner, the Sox turned an inning ending doubleplay.

And Bryant took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, finally figuring Hale out. Again, it was Speer who got the uprising started. He singled to left then, on an errant pickoff throw from Hale, Speer sprinted all the way to third.

Davis followed with a sharp single to center to make it 3-2.

With one out, Catton laced a single to right center to set the table for Drennan, who plugged the gap in left-center for a lone double that chased both runs home, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead. And when Dillon traded places with Drennan on a double to right-center, the Bryant lead was two runs.

With the help of a great catch in deep center by Greiner, Turner pitched around a lead-off single by Weston Dobbins in the top of the sixth.

The Sox then put the finishing touches on the victory in the home half of the inning. J.T. Parker led off with a walk. He went to second on an errant pickoff throw from the Lake Hamilton catcher, Spencer Gracie, then Speer sacrificed him to third.

With two down, Riggs kept the inning alive by working a walk. Catton singled in Parker and, after Drennan was drilled to fill the bases, Dillon cracked a two-run single to left.

Turner issued a two-out walk in the top of the seventh but ended the game with his fifth strikeout.

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