Photos by Rick Nation
Jordan Taylor and Tyler Brown combined on a three-hit shutout while Brown and Hunter Mayall each cracked[more] a pair of hits in the Bryant Black Sox’ 9-0 win over Benton McClendon’s in the Zone 4 opener for both teams Wednesday night.
It was the second win of the season in as many games for the Sox who were scheduled to host Sheridan on Thursday in a game that was postponed and as yet rescheduled. So the Bryant team is set to visit Little Rock Post 1 Blue at Central High School’s Buddy Coleman Field on Tuesday, June 5.
During the State championship season of the Bryant Hornets this spring, there was a time when Taylor was head coach Kirk Bock’s most trusted hurler. In fact, during one stretch over 31 days, from April 3 to May 4, the team played 12 games and Taylor pitched in 10 of them. That included six games in a row from April 3 through April 19. At the end of that run of games then in his brief mound stint in the Class 7A State Tournament opener against Fayetteville, the right-hander was working on guts, guile and a nasty curveball, a regular yellow hammer.
But that May 11 game against Fayetteville was the last he was needed on the mound as junior Nate Rutherford emerged with 11 shutout innings over the last two games against Bentonville in the semifinals and against Rogers Heritage in the championship game.
So when Taylor made his return to the mound on Wednesday, he looked rejuvenated. In five innings, he fanned seven, walked just one and allowed three singles, two to Brad Neighbors.
“He had a long break there at the end of high school,” acknowledged Black Sox manager Darren Hurt. “He looked fresh. His arm was live. His curveball was working and he threw a couple of really good change-ups. He was in command the whole game.”
Brown, who didn’t play this spring but helped as a volunteer coach for the high school team, finished with two scoreless innings. He walked a pair and got a lift from center fielder Hayden Daniel, who tracked down a deep drive to left-center off the bat of Benton’s Corky Welch.
As in their win over Cabot in the season-opener on Monday, the Sox rattled the bats early, building a 6-0 lead in the first two frames.
“We came out early on and hit it everywhere, spraying it around, hitting it in the alleys,” Hurt noted. “That’s what we’re going to have to do all year. I thought we did a really good job hitting with two strikes. I know at least four of our hits were with two strikes. We battled then wound up getting some base hits out of it. We did a good job at the plate.”
Mayall ignited both of the uprisings in the first two frames. He lashed a triple to the fence in left-center to open the bottom of the first and, an out later, scored on a liner up the middle by Landon Pickett.
Taylor, who had walked ahead of Pickett’s hit, moved up to third when Josh Pultro was hit by a pitch. Benton starter Hunter McDade then walked Hayden Lessenberry to force in a run, making it 2-0.
That brought Brown up and he hit a hard grounder through the hole on the left side for a two-run single to cap the inning.
Taylor, after working a 1-2-3 first, surrendered singles to Ryne Besancon and Neighbors to start the second. But the Hornets worked a nice pick-off play to erase Besancon then Taylor struck out McDade and Matt Frelin to send it to the bottom of the second.
Mayall pulled a sharp single to right and Taylor belted a double to set the table for more runs. Pickett’s sacrifice fly made it 5-0 then Pultro lined a single to right-center to chase in Taylor.
Dylan Oliver drew Taylor’s lone walk to open the top of the third. Ethan Beard followed with a tap in front of the plate. Lessenberry, the Bryant catcher, shot out from his crouch and pounced on the ball, gunning to first to retire Beard. But Oliver was at second with the top of the Benton lineup coming up. Taylor, however, struck out Tanner Bates and Levon Steward to end the threat.
Bates relieved McDade in the bottom of the inning and pitched around a lead-off single by Brown. But, in turn, Taylor eased past a two-out single by Neighbors in the top of the fourth. He would finish his work on the bump in the fifth by striking out the side.
In the interim, the Black Sox capped off their scoring in the home fourth with some help from McClendon’s. Tyler Nelson’s single up the middle with one out was the lone hit of the inning. Taylor followed with a fly to deep center that Steward got to but didn’t catch. Runners wound up at second and third and, with two out, Pultro was plunked again, loading the sacks.
Lessenberry picked up his second RBI when he was hit by the very next pitch from Bates. A walk to Brown forced in a run and a pitching change. But the new hurler, Shawn Beesley, issued yet another RBI walk to Daniel to make it 9-0.
Beesley, a right-hander, with the proverbial herky-jerky motion and a three-quarters delivery, held Bryant without a hit the rest of the way. He pitched around an error and a walk in the sixth but Brown was being just as stingy with the Benton batters as he completed the whitewash.
BRYANT BLACK SOX 9, BENTON McCLENDON'S 0
Senior American Legion
McClendon's ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Bates, lf-p-cf 3 0 0 0 Mayall, lf-1b 4 2 2 0
Steward, cf 2 0 0 0 Nelson, ss 4 1 1 0
Beesley, p 0 0 0 0 Taylor, p-3b 3 3 1 0
Welch, 1b 3 0 0 0 Pickett, 1b 2 1 1 2
Besancon, ss 3 0 1 0 Wilson, lf 1 0 0 0
Neighbors, 2b 2 0 2 0 Pultro, rf 2 2 1 1
Wilcox, ph 1 0 0 0 Lessenberry, c 2 0 0 2
McDade, p 1 0 0 0 Brown, 3b-p 2 0 2 3
Wray, rf 2 0 0 0 Daniel, cf 3 0 0 1
Frelin, c 3 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b 3 0 0 0
Oliver, 3b 1 0 0 0
Holyfield, ph 0 0 0 0
Beard, rf-lf 3 0 0 0
Totals 24 0 3 0 Totals 26 9 8 9
Benton 000 000 0 — 0
BRYANT 420 300 x — 9
E—Steward, Neighbors. LOB—Benton 6, Bryant 6. 2B—Taylor. 3B—Mayall. SB—Lessenberry. SF—Pickett.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
McDade (L) 2 6 6 6 2 1
Bates 1.2 3 1 2 1 1
Beesley 2.1 0 0 0 2 0
Taylor (W) 5 0 0 3 1 7
Brown 2 0 0 0 2 2
Balk—McDade. HBP–Pultro (by McDade), Pultro, Lessenberry (by Bates). WP—Brown.