Senior Sox sweep defending State champs on the road
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting 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
TEXARKANA — It’s not only that the TexAr Razorbacks of Texarkana are the defending[more] Senior American Legion State champions or that the Bryant Black Sox’ doubleheader sweep was on the Hogs’ home field. All that is pretty sweet, of course, as is the fact that the Sox outscored the Razorbacks 14-0 over the first 12 innings of the 14 played.
Like Fort Smith or Fayetteville and a few others where the Legion team is basically a regional all-star team (usually with only a smattering of players from the local high school), Texarkana pulls players from all over southwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma to create its team.
The members of Bryant’s squad all went to Bryant High School.
So, when the Hornets left Texarkana late Wednesday night with a pair of key Zone 4 league wins, it was no small thing on a number of levels. Not the least of which is that the Sox now have a two-game lead over the rest of the teams in the Zone as they improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the league with their 8-0 and 6-4 victories.
Jordan Taylor, with seventh-inning relief from Dylan Cross, shut TexAr out on just three hits in the opener while he and lead-off man Tyler Nelson racked up three hits apiece.
In the nightcamp, Landon Pickett held the Hogs scoreless through five and Cross squelched a late rally to earn a save while the offense was paced by Tyler Brown with three hits. Taylor and Pickett had two each. In fact, Taylor reached base on six straight plate appearances on the night, going 5 for 5 with a walk before being retired his last two times to the plate.
“That’s a very good ballclub over there,” stated Sox manager Darren Hurt, referring to TexAr. “They’re deep in pitching and hitting. They’re just solid. With us being a Bryant hometown team, it feels good to come here and not only compete but put it on them.
“That first game, we had a lot of big hits,” he noted. “Second game, they throw (Reid) Peevy and he’s a heck of a pitcher but we had some really good at-bats against him.”
Few of Bryant’s 21 hits in the two games were dinks or ducksnorts. The Sox hit the ball hard most of the night.
“We were just trying to keep (Peevy) in fastball counts,” Hurt mentioned. “We felt comfortable swinging at the fastball. He got behind on us some and we were able to just sit on fastballs.”
In the opener, Texarkana was the home team. In the second game, Bryant was home since the twinbill took the place of home-and-home contests.
Bryant never trailed.
Two runs in the second inning of the first game, got things started. A one-out walk to Brady Bulter, who wound up catching both games with B.J. Ellis and Hayden Lessenberry unavailable. Chris Joiner followed with a single that was misplayed in center putting runners at second and third. Josh Pultro got Butler home with a grounder to the right side, then Evan Jobe plugged the gap in left-center for an RBI double to get Joiner home.
Taylor worked around an error and a two-out single in the bottom of the second. He fanned two to pitch around a two-out single in the third. Including the strikeout to end that frame, the right-hander retired seven straight and 9 of the last 10 batters he faced. Cross needed just 14 pitches to get through the bottom of the seventh.
The Sox expanded the tenuous 2-0 lead with three in the fourth. Joiner reached on an error, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single to right by Pultro. An errant throw on the relay to the plate allowed Pultro to take second and, after he moved to third on a groundout by Jobe, he scored on a single to left by Nelson.
Another wild pitch by TexAr starter Michael Gilley gave Nelson second and, after he reached third on Brown’s bounce out, Taylor lined a single to left to chase him home.
In the fifth, Lucas Castleberry reached on an error and Butler swatted a single to left, bringing an end to the outing by Gilley. Ethan Hammond relieved and unleashed a wild pitch to move the runners up. With one out, pinch-hitting Hunter Mayall was walked intentionally to load the bases. Hammond’s second strikeout threatened to force the Sox to leave the bases full. Nelson, however, after fouling off a 2-2 pitch, shot one up the middle for a two-run single that made it 7-0.
Bryant would tack on another run in the top of the seventh. Caleb Garrett blooped a double down the line in right but was tagged out going to third on a grounder by Jobe. Garrett stayed in the hotbox long enough for Jobe to reach second and that proved to be fortuitous when Nelson again came through in the clutch with an RBI single up the middle. He finished with four runs batted in.
In the second game, Pickett shut down the Hogs early, retiring the first seven batters he faced before giving up back-to-back singles to Drake Freeman and Chase Sealy. Those hits came just after Joiner robbed Gilley of a home run reaching up in deep left to make the catch for the first out of the frame.
With the top of the order up, the Bryant right-hander worked out of the inning by striking out Daniel Spears and getting Carlton Bailey to line to Jobe in right.
Bryant had taken a 1-0 lead by then. In the second, Joiner was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored when, with two out, Jobe launched a high pop that lifted above the low light standards on the infield. Peevy, the pitcher, started to call for it but was called off by first baseman Alan Copeland. But Copeland was unable to haul it in and, running all the way, Joiner scored.
In the third, the Sox pushed home four more. Brown singled to left and advanced on a wild pitch. Taylor then lashed a double to right-center to chase him home. Hunter Mayall singled and Pickett picked up the RBI with a long drive off the fence in left, which only went for a single because Mayall was playing it close at first with the threat of the ball being caught. That longest of singles was followed by a short one. Joiner placed a bunt perfectly for a hit to load the bases for Butler, who came through with a sacrifice fly to right. Pickett then scored the fourth run of the inning when Pultro mashed a two-hopper that Gilley knocked down at third. Gilley threw home to try to get Pickett, but catcher Hunter Wilcher couldn’t home the throw and Pickett stepped past him to get to the plate safely, making it 5-0.
Copeland doubled to start the fourth for Texarkana but he was stranded at third as Pickett and the Bryant defense retired the next three batters. He would set the Razorbacks down in order in the top of the fifth and, in the home half, he crushed a liner to the fence in left for a lead-off double. Joiner was hit by a pitch again and, an out later, Pultro hit a bouncer up the middle that Freeman, the Hogs’ shortstop, was able to field on the move. He got the force at second but his bid to end the inning with a doubleplay was undermined by a wild throw to first that Pickett took advantage of to make it 6-0.
Though he’d only thrown 53 pitches, Pickett was relieved in the fifth after a lead-off double by Spears. Set-up man Matt Neal came on an recorded a strikeout. Copeland followed with a sharp one-hopper that Brown backhanded nicely at third. But his throw to first was in the dirt and Copeland reached as Spears took third. A walk to Preston Ellis loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Daniel Thompson. On an 0-2 pitch, Thompson drilled a single to center to plate Texarkana’s first two runs of the night.
Cross was called upon to get out of the jam. Blake Resecker’s sacrifice fly made it 6-3 but that’s all the Razorbacks could get as Gilley flew out to Joiner in left.
TexAr reliever Jonathan Howe gave up Brown’s third hit in the bottom of the sixth but then retired the next three. Bailey, the Hogs’ second baseman, saved a hit and a run with a diving stab of Cross’ sharp grounder to the right side sending the game to the seventh.
Things got a little shaky for Cross and the Sox in the top of the seventh. Joey Langston was hit by a pitch and Colton Lorence walked. The Bryant closer came back to strikeout Spears and had two strikes on Bailey before he hit him.
With the sacks full and Copeland up, Cross picked off Langston from third. But Langston broke for home and when the weary Butler tried to come up the line to get the throw from Taylor at third, he was unable to hang on as Langston got to the plate.
Lorence had taken third and when Bailey stole second, TexAr had the potential tying runs in scoring position.
But Cross squelched the comeback by getting Copeland ground out to Taylor, who looked Lorence back to third before throwing to first for the out. Ellis followed with a high fly to Joiner in left to end it.
“That was huge,” Hurt said of Cross’ effort, mentioning that he came close to pulling his closer in the midst of the uprising. “He had one more (batter) and that was it. And here’s the thing, to tell you the truth, I didn’t know where I was going to go. I had Nelson in mind. I was not beyond going back to Jordan because he could get us a ground ball and that’s what we needed. But Dylan, those last two batters, he came back. And he needed that. The worst thing that could’ve happened would’ve been for me to have to go out and get him. So I’m proud of him for coming back.”
The Sox return to league action on Thursday when they host Little Rock Continental Express. A Junior game will be played at 6 p.m. with the Senior contest beginning around 8.
BRYANT 8, TEXAR 0
Senior American Legion
Black Sox ab r h bi Razorbacks ab r h bi
Nelson, ss-2b 4 1 3 4 Langston, ss 2 0 1 0
Brown, 3b 5 0 0 0 Bailey, 2b 3 0 1 0
Taylor, p-ss 3 0 3 1 O’Dell, 3b 3 0 0 0
Pickett, 1b 4 0 1 0 Copeland, 1b 3 0 0 0
Castleberry, 2b 3 1 0 0 Ellis, dh 3 0 0 0
Hurt, 2b 1 0 0 0 Lorance, cf 2 0 0 0
Cross, p 0 0 0 0 Spears, lf 3 0 1 0
Butler, c 3 2 1 0 Thompson, c 2 0 0 0
Joiner, lf 4 2 1 0 Resecker, rf 2 0 0 0
Pultro, cf 2 1 1 2 Gilley, p 0 0 0 0
Mayall, ph 0 0 0 0 Hammond, p 0 0 0 0
Jobe, rf 4 1 1 1
Totals 34 8 12 8 Totals 23 0 3 0
BRYANT 020 320 1 — 8
TexAr 000 000 0 — 0
E—Lorance, Brown, Langston, Copeland, Gilley. LOB—Bryant 9, TexAr 4. 2B—Jobe, Pickett, Garrett. SB—Langston 2.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Taylor (W) 6 0 0 3 1 8
Cross 1 0 0 0 1 2
Gilley (L) 4 7 3 8 2 2
Hammond 3 1 1 4 1 5
Gilley faced two batters in the fifth
Balk—Taylor. WP—Gilley 2, Hammond.
BRYANT 6, TEXAR 4
Razorbacks ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Spears, rf 4 1 1 0 Nelson, 2b-ss 4 0 0 0
Bailey, 2b 3 0 0 0 Brown, 3b 4 1 3 0
Copeland, 1b 4 1 1 0 Garrett, pr-rf 0 0 0 0
O’Dell, dh 2 0 0 0 Taylor, ss-3b 4 1 2 1
Ellis, dh 1 1 0 0 Mayall, 1b 4 1 1 0
Wilcher, c 2 0 0 0 Pickett, p 3 2 2 1
Thompson, c 1 0 1 2 Neal, p 0 0 0 0
Resecker, cf 2 0 0 1 Cross, p 1 0 0 0
Gilley, 3b 3 0 0 0 Joiner, lf 1 1 1 0
Freeman, ss 2 0 1 0 Butler, c 2 0 0 1
Langston, ph 0 1 0 0 Pultro, cf 3 0 0 0
Sealy, lf 2 0 1 0 Jobe, rf 2 0 0 0
Lorence, ph 0 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b 0 0 0 0
Peevy, p 0 0 0 0
Howe, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 26 4 5 3 Totals 28 6 9 3
TexAr 000 003 1 — 4
BRYANT 014 010 x — 6
E—Copeland, Wilcher, Freeman, Brown, Butler. LOB—TexAr 6, Bryant 8. 2B—Taylor, Copeland, Pickett, Spears. SB—Sealy, Joiner, Garrett. SF—Butler, Resecker.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Peevy (L) 5 6 3 8 1 4
Howe 1 0 0 1 0 0
Pickett (W) 5 1 1 4 0 4
Neal 0.1 2 0 1 1 1
Cross (S) 1.2 1 0 0 1 1
HBP—Joiner 2 (by Peevy), Langston (by Cross), Bailey (by Cross). WP—Peevy 3. PB—Wllcher.