Senior Sox score early and often in tourney-opening win
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).
In a Major League baseball game, particularly, you know when a team starts to use position players on the mound, things are either going really, really well or really, really wrong.
On Saturday in the first round of the Zone 4 Senior American Legion tournament, something similar to that occurred for the Bryant Black Sox as outfielder Drew Tipton and catcher Hayden Lessenberry made their season debuts as pitchers against the Little Rock Post 1 Vipers. And, fortunately for the top-seeded Sox, the former was the scenario.
In fact, by the end of the first innings, they led 14-0 and, at the end of two, it was 20-0.
It was a long night for the Vipers as Bryant wound up with a 25-2 win in seven innings capped off by Lessenberry striking out the side in the seventh.
The Sox hammered out 25 hits including five by Tipton and four each for Korey Thompson, Trevor Ezell and Lessenberry. And in order to save innings for the regular rotation of pitchers, Tipton pitched the sixth and Lessenberry took over in the seventh after Harrison Dale made the start and got relief help from Austin Caldwell in the third.
Bryant will play the rival Red River Federal Credit Union Razorbacks of Texarkana in the winners’ bracket final this evening at 7. Little Rock will play in an elimination game against Benton McClendon’s TV and Appliance at 4 p.m.
Earlier on Saturday, the Texarkana team broke open a 4-3 game with six runs in the sixth on the way to a 10-4 win over Benton. Jackson Murphy had three hits including a three-run bomb to highlight the sixth. Lead-off man Dylan Selvey had three hits as well.
Razorbacks pitchers George Eubanks and Caleb Stutts combined to walk seven but only surrendered three singles in the game.
Bryant, as host of the Senior State Tournament, will be one of the Zone 4 representatives at State. One of the other three teams will be there too. Texarkana is the defending State champion.
Reportedly, Little Rock was without its starting third baseman, so the Sox took advantage early, igniting the first-inning romp. Trevor Ezell bunted the first pitch of the home first, beat it out for a hit and went on to second when the throw to first was errant. Tipton beat out a bunt hit then stole second before Blake Patterson drew a walk to load the bases. Lessenberry scalded the first pitch he saw for a two-run single up the middle.
Chase Tucker bunted and there wasn’t even a throw as he beat it out, loading the bases again. With one down, Brandan Warner laced a single to center to knock in two more.
The frustration truly began to set in for the Vipers when Trey Breeding hit a grounder to third. Alex Stillwell made the play but his throw to second, in hopes of starting an inning-ending doubleplay, skipped away. Tucker scored and Warner wound up at third.
Korey Thompson was next and he proceeded to beat out the fourth bunt single of the inning, driving in Warner.
That brought Ezell back to the plate. He drilled a double over the left-fielder’s head, making it 7-0. Tipton cracked another double to plate Ezell and, after Patterson walked again, Lessenberry poked a single to right to chase him Tipton.
After an RBI single for Tucker, Warner walked with two down, loading the bases for Breeding, who plugged the gap in left center for a double that cleared the bases. That ended the evening for Little Rock lefty Tanner Wagner. Blake Burgess relieved and ended the inning there by getting Thompson to ground out to first.
Dale, who had worked around a two-out single by Cole Weber in the first, picked up some defensive support in a 1-2-3 second. Both Thompson, at second, and Warner, at third, made nice plays.
Bryant’s onslaught resumed in the second. Tipton singled, Patterson walked and Lessenberry doubled. Tucker was hit by a pitch and, with two down, Warner beat out an infield hit as Patterson scored. Breeding struck out on a pitch in the dirt and when he reached first ahead of the catcher’s throw, Lessenberry scored to make it 17-0.
Thompson cracked a single to right to chase in two then Ezell singled in the 20th run.
Caldwell worked scoreless frames in the third and fourth. In the top of the fifth, Micah Shepard singled, Burgess walked and Seth Campbell singled with two down to load the bags. Caldwell kept them off the board by inducing a grounder to short to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, C.J. Phillips beat out an infield hit, advanced on a wild pitch and scored with two down when Zach Graddy’s grounder to short went through the wickets into left field.
Base hits by Thompson and Ezell loaded the bases for Tipton who ripped his fifth hit, a double to left-center that brought in three.
Little Rock was able to break the goose egg on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth against Tipton. J.T. Thompson singled, Weber took a pitch off his batting helmet and, with one away, Petyon White singled in both.
Bryant’s final run in the home sixth was a product of Lessenberry’s drive to center that was declared a double when Little Rock centerfielder Braylon Mays went down in the heap in center as he started to move to the ball. The liner sailed over him and to the fence. It would’ve been an inside-the-park homer had it not been under those circumstances.
It took a while for Mays to get to his feet so play was halted to check on him. He was eventually able to stay in, though he traded places with Weber in right.
Phillips beat out his second infield hit and, with one out, Warner hit a sacrifice fly to set the final score.
BRYANT 25, LITTLE ROCK 2
Vipers ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Johnson, c 4 0 0 0 Ezell, ss 6 3 4 3
J.Thompson, ss 4 1 1 0 Tipton, lf-p 6 3 5 4
Weber, rf-cf 1 1 1 0 Patterson, 1b 1 3 0 0
Stillwell, 3b 3 0 0 0 Emmerling, 1b-lf 2 0 0 0
White, lf 3 0 1 2 Lessenberry, dh-1b-p 5 4 4 4
Shepard, 1b 3 0 1 0 Tucker, cf 2 3 2 1
Wagner, p 0 0 0 0 Phillips, cf 2 1 2 0
Burgess, p 1 0 0 0 Holt, rf 5 0 0 0
Moore, p 0 0 0 0 Warner, 3b 3 3 2 4
Mays, cf-rf 3 0 0 0 Breeding, c 4 2 1 4
Nolen, 2b 1 0 0 0 Graddy, c 2 1 1 0
Campbell, 2b 2 0 1 0 K.Thompson, 2b 6 2 4 3
Dale, p 0 0 0 0
Caldwell, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 25 2 5 2 Totals 45 25 25 24
Little Rock 000 002 0 — 2
Bryant (14)60 041 — 25
E—Stillwell 2, J.Thompson. DP—Bryant 1. LOB—Little Rock 6, Bryant 11. 2B—Lessenberry 2, Ezell, Tipton. SB—Tipton 2, Weber. SF—Warner.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Wagner (L) 0.2 14 11 11 3 1
Burgess 3.1 5 5 8 3 3
Moore 2 5 1 7 0 1
Dale 2 0 0 1 0 3
Caldwell (W) 3 0 0 2 2 1
Tipton 1 2 2 2 1 2
Lessenberry 1 0 0 0 0 3
HBP—Warner (by Burgess), Weber (by Tipton). WP—Burgess 2, Tipton 2, Moore.
Umpires — Brad Clark (Home), Randy Clayton (bases).