It wasn’t exactly art but then baseball is so often not. But the Bryant Black Sox scratched out a 10-6 win over the Russellville Pirates on Friday night to earn a split of their doubleheader at Bryant High School Field. It was the final regular season game for the Sox, who will take a 29-10 record into the Senior American Legion State Tournament at UCA in Conway next Friday.
Russellville held on for an 11-10 win in the opener, which went into the seventh inning with the Pirates up 11-3.
Blaine Sears persevered through the hard-hitting Russellville lineup in game two to pick up the win. Hayden Thompson surrendered a run in the seventh before closing it out.
Ryan Riggs had two hits and three runs batted in as the Sox took advantage of six walks, four hit batsmen and four errors with five well-timed knocks.
The Pirates hacked out 12 hits but Sears only walked one after the two teams combined to walk 20 in the first game.
The Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Noah Davis walked, Conner Martin was struck by a pitch and Colby Morrow delivered an RBI single.
Russelllville used an error, a bloop single and a two-out knock by Blake Dawson to tie it in the second. The inning ended when Drew Hatman gunned down the runner trying to reach third.
In the bottom of the second, Hatman walked and Cade Parker was struck by a 2-2 pitch from Ty Hipps. The duo moved to second and third on a wild pitch then Sears hit a grounder to third. A throw to the plate was in time to nail Hatman, who was shaken up on the play.
But, with Parker at third, Sears stole second to set the table for Riggs, who lashed a drive to left-center for a two-run double that put the Sox up 3-1.
In the third, however, Russellville strung together four consecutive hits to score three runs, which produced a 4-3 lead. Blake Childress, who was 3 for 4 in the game, had a triple.
After the Sox were set down in order in the bottom of the third, the Pirates had three singles push across a fifth run but Sears forced them to strand runners at second and third.
And, with help from the Pirates, the Sox rallied to regain the upper hand in the home fourth.
Braxton Prather worked a one-out walk then Parker hit a grounder to the pitcher. He threw wildly to second and Prather hustled to third.
Sears got a bunt down, trying to squeeze in Prather. But, again, the Russellville hurler fielded it and threw past first and into the right-field corner. Two scored and Sears wound up at third with the game tied at 5.
A wild pitch allowed Sears to come in with the go-ahead run.
The inning continued with Davis and Martin each getting struck by deliveries from Hipps. Morrow walked to load the bases and Hipps gave way to Branden Bunten. Two wild pitches allowed two more runs as Lawson Speer worked a walk.
Sears settled in and worked around a hit batsman in the top of the fifth. In the home half, the Sox tacked on. Parker beat out an infield hit that drew a wild throw to first, allowing him to sprint all the way to third. Riggs ripped a liner to right for an RBI single to make it 9-5.
Davis beat out an infield hit then Martin walked. Morrow’s grounder to second was misplayed and Riggs scored to the 10th run.
Sears eased through a 1-2-3 sixth, fanning two as he finished up well, reaching 103 pitches. Thompson gave up a double, a one-out single and a wild pitch but fanned the side around that to complete the victory.
Russellville 11, Bryant 10
The first game was most notable because Bryant’s J.T. Parker got a chance to pitch for the first time since his 14-year-old season. The game marked his last for the Black Sox as he prepares to join the Marine Corps.
He threw strikes but gave up a couple of hits. Josh Turner relieved and retired the next two to end they inning.
Then the Sox made a bid to erase that 11-3 deficit in the home seventh. They got some help as Pirate pitchers walked six in the inning. Cade Parker had a single after Jaxon Ham had walked. A free pass to Sears loaded the bases for Riggs, who walked to force in a run. Davis did too.
Martin singled in a run then Morrow cleared the bases with a double to make it 11-9.
After a pitching change, Speer walked to force in a run but Bunten fanned the next two to end the game.
Bryant had spotted Russellville a 4-0 lead in the first. They added two more in the second and three in the third to make it 9-0.
The Sox got on the board in the bottom of the third when Riggs broke up Parker Lee’s no-hitter with a double down the right-field line. Davis singled him home.
Martin was hit by a pitch and, Logan White walked but the Sox stranded three.
A single, a walk and a pair of wild pitches allowed another run to score for Russellville in the top of the third.
In the bottom of the inning, Sears and Riggs walked then Martin’s grounder was misplayed at third to load the bags. Morrow drew an RBI walk but the Sox could muster no more.
Both teams added a run in the fifth. Lance Millsaps singled in the Pirates’ tally. For Bryant, Gavin Burton walked, stole second and scored on Sears’ two-out, two-strike single to right.
That made it 11-3.