By Rob Patrick
So, what do you do when you run into an opponent that's having one of those Murphy's Law (Whatever can go wrong, will) kind of games and you scored 12 times against them in the first inning?
"First of all, you don't want to get anyone hurt," answered Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion manager Craig Harrison. "Let's get somebody some work if we can. But it's almost a practice."
Last summer, former Black Sox player Justin Gregory's Hot Springs Village Knights AA American Legion team (small town 19-and-under) with right-hander Ryan Herron, gave Bryant fits for a while before the Sox managed to pull away for an easy-looking win. On Wednesday, May 27, Herron and the Knights were back with designs on duplicating the effort and, perhaps, pulling off the upset this time.[more]
But Herron, a hard thrower, never got his feet on the ground. He walked Caleb Garrett then got Brennan Bullock to hit a comebacker. But, instead of taking the easy out at first, Herron tried to get Garrett at second and his throw short-hopped second sacker Brandon Heller. Both runners were safe. Walks to Hunter Mayall, Brady Butler and Trent Daniel forced in two runs. B.J. Ellis was hit by a pitch to pick up an RBI and Jonathan Wade walked for an RBI before Herron was pulled in favor of Kyle Heller.
"You know, the guy has a good arm," Harrison said of Herron. "He just couldn't find the zone and one thing compounded another."
Ben Wells greeted the new hurler with a two-run single to left to make it 6-0.
Austin Benning was hit by a pitch to load the bags again for Garrett who delivered a sacrifice fly to left. So even the Sox' first out produced a run.
Bullock singled to load the bases for Mayall who drove in two with a liner to left. Butler reached on an error, loading the bags, then singles by Daniel and Ellis each coaxed runs across the plate to make it 11-0. After Wade's shot to right was caught for the second out, Wells drew a walk to force in the final run of the inning.
"At first, you come out here and say, everyone that comes out is trying to beat you," Harrison related. "We looked at the scores the other night and they beat Lakeside and we know we had a tough game with them. So we came out here in the first inning with intensity. (Starting pitcher) Caleb (Milam) went to the mound with intensity and was sharp I thought."
Milam had worked a 1-2-3 top of the first, fanning two. He gave up a single to Garrett Mendez to start the second then Rowdy Scott walked. But Milam struck out the next batter and got Kyle Heller when catcher B.J. Ellis made a fine play on his foul pop.
In the bottom of the second, Garrett reached base on a third-strike wild pitch then, an out later, Mayall's grounder to short was misplayed. With two down, Milam walked to load the bases for Ellis, who took another one for the team, forcing in a run to make it 13-0.
Jacob Clark relieved for the Sox in the third. The Knights put together three hits to plate a run. Michael Mendez drove the run home with a single to left.
"Jake's got to understand that he's got to throw his curveball for a strike or he's going to have trouble getting hitters out," Harrison noted. "And after he started getting it over, he did fine."
The game came to an end after just three innings, however, when the Sox added three runs. Wells and Benning reached on errors then Garrett drilled a double to left-center to make it 14-1.
Bullock drew a walk and, when the count went to 2-0 on Mayall, Matt Harper, the third HSV pitcher, gave way to Garrett Mendez. The walk was completed and another run scored. So, when Austin Queck, batting for Butler, was hit by a pitch forcing in a run, the game was complete.
"I give credit to the (Hot Springs Village) kids," Harrison mentioned. "They're out there trying to beat you. They're out here, they have a program. And their kids were having fun. They didn't mouth. They showed the kind of class that Justin (Gregory) has with coaching them.
"We got what we wanted and now we'll see what we can do on Friday," he concluded.
In three innings, Bryant benefitted from nine walks and four hit batsmen.
The Sox were without top hitters Tyler Sawyer, Justin Blankenship and Kaleb Jobe who were all on a senior trip. They were expected back before Friday's Zone IV opener at Benton.