Senior Sox complete unbeaten run through league with Daniel’s no-hit effort
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
Trent Daniel never got to pitch against the rival Benton Panthers in high school. That’s because when the Panthers met Daniel and the Bryant Hornets, it was always a non-conference game and Daniel was usually slated to work in the league contests.
But, in American Legion baseball where both the Bryant Black Sox and Benton McClendons are Zone 4 rivals, Daniel has gotten his chances.
And he’s made the most of them.
During the 2008 season, he struck out a team-record 19 batters at Benton and, on Friday, July 10, 2009, he whipped up a no-hitter in a 9-0 victory over McClendon’s to complete the Black Sox’ regular season.
Bryant improved to 24-4 overall and 10-0 in the league. It’s just the second time in the Harrison era (coaches Craig and Tic Harrison who took over the program in 1995) that a Sox team has posted an unbeaten run through the Zone. It’s something that some pretty good teams over the years have not been able to accomplish, including the team that went all the way to the American Legion World Series in 2007 (a team, by the way, that Daniel played a prominent roll for). The only other unbeaten league season was in 2006. [more]
“That’s a tough task, whether is 10, 12, 14, however many teams we have in the league, to get that focus every game,” Craig Harrison said. “And it’s not like we’re 10-0 and 18-13. We’ve managed to put together a decent little season.”
The Sox will host the Zone 4 District Tournament beginning Friday, July 17, at Bryant High School field which will determine the league’s two representatives at the Senior Legion State tournament in North Little Rock the next weekend.
“One is down,” Harrison said, referring to the regular-season title which earns the team a first-round bye at the District tourney as the No. 1 seed. “Even when we were 8-0 that was down but we still wanted to take care of business. Now, we’ll take the weekend off, get away, then come back and focus for step two next weekend.
“It’ll be tough,” he asserted. “It’s not going to be the cakewalk that it may appear to be because of records. You can get deceived into thinking there’s no way we can be beat and that’s the worst thing we can think. We’ve got to come out here Saturday (July 18) and play nine tough innings of baseball to give ourselves a chance to move on. We’ll be here, I’ll tell you that. We’re going to play hard.”
Daniel faced just two batters over the minimum. He surrendered a walk to Steven Brooks to lead off the game then retired nine in a row, seven on strikes and six of those in succession. In the fourth, Blake Childress reached second on an errant throw to first. He tagged and went to third on a flyout to right but was stranded when Daniel got Benton clean-up hitter Michael Long to pop out to Tyler Sawyer at short and No. 5 hitter Ashton Wilson to foul out to third baseman Hunter Mayall.
He worked a 1-2-3 fifth but the first out was a close call. On a chopper to third, Austin Pfeiffer Nearly beat Mayall’s throw to first but was called out on a bang-bang play. Daniel struck out Jace Mitchell, his eighth of the game, then ended it when he got Brent Abbot to pop to Brady Butler at first.
“I’m proud of what Trent did tonight,” Harrison asserted.
“It was a good way to finish out the regular season,” stated Daniel, who was plagued early in the season by a cut on the index finger of his throwing hand, then slowed by a back strain. “I felt the best I have out there this whole summer. After the first batter, I settled in and I fell really comfortable. Every pitch was working for me really well.”
The Sox, meanwhile, scored in each of their four at-bats, breaking the game open with a six-run third. The previous evening, they’d scored in four of the five frames in an 18-1 romp over Little Rock Blue.
“We’ve played good the last two nights,” Harrison commented. “The pitchers have thrown well and the bottom of our lineup has hit the baseball. When they hit and get on base, it makes us better. When we turn that lineup over like we did the last two nights, we’re not bad. The guys are playing good.”
After hitting a grand slam in his last at-bat on Thursday, Justin Blankenship went 2-for-2, drove in two runs and scored twice on Friday. B.J. Ellis, the team’s No. 9 batter who was in the thick of the scoring on Thursday, was also 2-for-2 against Benton, scoring once and knocking in a pair. Sawyer also had two hits.
Blankenship was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the first. An out later, Sawyer singled him to second. Hunter Mayall bounced into a force at second as Blankenship took third and, when Mayall swiped second, a wild throw allowed the run to score.
In the second, Benton’s Heston Besancon struck out the first two he faced before Austin Benning shot a single up the middle. Ellis followed with a bouncer into left and Blankenship sliced a single to left to drive in Benning.
The third-inning outburst began with a single by Sawyer. Mayall walked but was forced at second on a grounder to the right side by Kaleb Jobe. Butler drew a walk to load the bases for Austin Queck. His bouncer to third was booted and Sawyer scored to make it 3-0. Benning followed with a lined shot that Benton shortstop Seth Hobbs grabbed. But when Hobbs threw to first in hopes of doubling off Queck, the throw was wild and Jobe scored. Ellis followed with a two-run double to make it 6-0. Blankenship shot a single to right to plate Ellis. After Blankenship took second on a late throw to the plate, the relay to second sailed into center field, allowing him to take third. Caleb Garrett singled him home from there.
Nathan Pirl relieved for Benton and got the final out of the frame. In the fourth, however, Mayall reached on an error, Jobe singled him to third and Butler got him home with a sacrifice fly to set the final score.
BRYANT 9, BENTON 0
Senior American Legion baseball
McClendon’s ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Brooks, cf 1 0 0 0 Blankenship, rf 2 2 2 2
Childress, lf 1 0 0 0 Garrett, cf 3 0 1 1
S.Hobbs, ss 2 0 0 0 Sawyer, ss 3 1 2 0
Long, c 2 0 0 0 Mayall, 3b 2 1 0 0
Wilson, rf 2 0 0 0 Jobe, c 3 1 1 0
Pfeiffer, 3b 2 0 0 0 Butler, 1b 1 1 0 1
Mitchell, 2b 2 0 0 0 Queck, lf 3 1 0 1
Abbott, dh 2 0 0 0 Benning, 2b 3 1 1 0
R.Hobbs, 1b 1 0 0 0 Ellis, c 2 1 2 2
Besancon, p 0 0 0 0 Daniel, p 0 0 0 0
Pirl, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 15 0 0 0 Totals 22 9 9 7
Benton 000 00 — 0
BRYANT 116 1x — 9
E—Long, S.Hobbs 3, Pfeiffer, Sawyer. LOB—Benton 2, Bryant 5. 2B—Ellis. SB—Mayall. S—Childress. SF—Butler.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Besancon (L) 2.2 8 2 8 2 4
Pirl 1.1 1 0 1 0 0
Daniel (W) 5 0 0 0 1 8
HBP—Blankenship (by Besancon). WP—Daniel, Besancon.