Sox advance to Senior State final with dramatic win over Kerwins
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
JONESBORO — Though he’d blasted a 3-1 pitch off the fence in dead center, Landon Pickett didn’t get past first base.
He didn’t have to go any further.
That’s because his shot over the head of Fort Smith Kerwins’ center fielder Michael Wilhelm (of Southside High School) enabled Jordan Taylor to score the game-tying run from third and Hunter Mayall to score the winning run from second in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Bryant Black Sox to the winner-take-all final to contend for the 2011 American Legion Senior State championship against the rival Texarkana Razorbacks (see subsequent post), which was played immediately following Tuesday night.
Bryant’s exhilarating 8-7 win came after Kerwins had erased Bryant’s 6-5 lead with a run in the eighth and had taken a 7-6 lead in the top of the ninth. Three outs away from the end of their season, the Sox had their three .400-plus hitters coming up and they came through. Taylor lined a single to left-center then Mayall blasted a double off the fence in right-center on the first two pitches of the inning from Fort Smith reliever Dawson Floyd (Muldrow, Okla.). It looked like Floyd was pitching around Pickett who already had a couple of hits in the game but he got a 3-1 delivery too close to the plate and Pickett creamed it for the game-winner.
The seesaw battle was the third meeting of the season between the two teams. Fort Smith won the regular-season battle at UCA but the Sox handed Kerwins both of its losses at State. Kerwins, as it turned out, was the only team to defeat Texarkana.
Short on pitching, the Sox started right-hander Tyler Brown, who was making just his fifth appearance of the season on the mound — one of which was just for three batters the night before, came up big. He battled through six innings and left with his team leading 6-5. Dylan Cross, who had closed out Bryant’s 9-8 win over Fayetteville in an elimination game the night before, pitched the last three innings to pick up the win in relief.
The Sox struggled with the off-speed pitching and unorthodox delivery of Kerwins’ starter Bailey Nash (Sallisaw, Okla.) early in the game. They were able to manage a 1-0 lead in the second when Pickett doubled, took third on a base hit by Chris Joiner and scored on a single by Lucas Castleberry.
Brown had allowed just one hit over the first two innings but ran into some trouble in the third, undermined by a fielding miscue behind him and a call that didn’t go Bryant’s way.
D.J. Turner (Sallisaw, Okla.) was hit by a pitch to start the inning but Wilhelm hit a bouncer on the infield that looked like a made-to-order doubleplay. But an error resulted no one being retired and, the next batter, Chance Scamardo (Southside) singled to drive in the tying run. Matt Turner (Greenwood) singled on a 3-2 pitch to put Kerwins ahead. After Brennan Rogers (Greenwood) walked to load the bases, Brown appeared to pick Scamardo off third but it was ruled he somehow got back to the bag. That cost a run when Scamardo scored when the Sox turned a doubleplay on a grounder to second by Nick Walker (Sallisaw, Okla.).
With a runner at third, Brown struck out Koda Glover (Heavener, Okla.) to end the rugged inning.
Kerwins added a run in the fourth on singles by Jon Benson (Southside) and D.J. Turner ahead of a blooper by Wilhelm that drew chalk in shallow left for an RBI double.
The Sox finally got to Nash in the fifth. Hayden Lessenberry drew a lead-off walk and, an out later, Brown parachuted a double down the right-field line. Taylor singled in a run then Mayall’s base hit made it 4-3.
After pitching around a pair of hits in the fifth, Brown surrendered a run in the sixth on a two-out hit by Rogers. D.J. Turner, who had doubled crossed the plate to make it a two-run game.
But the Sox surged into the lead in the home sixth. Singles by Joiner and Josh Pultro got the inning started. Castleberry then got a sacrifice bunt down and when Nash’s throw to first was wild, two runs scored and Castleberry hustled all the way to third. He scored moments later on a groundout to second by Lessenberry to give Bryant the lead.
Nelson singled and Nash gave way to Floyd, who retired the next two, keeping it a one-run game.
Cross relieved in the seventh and surrendered a lead-off single to Glover but, after he struck out Benton, he got Seth Mobely (Northside) to bounce back to the mound and Cross started a 1-6-3 doubleplay.
In the eighth, however, D.J. Turner and Wilhelm singled. Scamardo lined to Castleberry at third who fired to second to double off Turner. A relay to first nearly produced a triple play but Wilhelm just got back in time.
Moments later, he stole second and, with Cross a strike away from ending the inning, Matt Turner singled to drive in the tying run.
Fort Smith took the lead in the top of the ninth when, with one out, Glover doubled down the line in left, took third on a groundout by Benson and scored on a wild pitch just moments before Mobely tapped back to the mound again.
After only mustering an infield hit by Pickett in the seventh, the Sox could only produce a one-out walk to Lessenberry in the eighth so it looked like Floyd was breezing going into the tell-tale home ninth.
BRYANT 8, FORT SMITH KERWINS 7
Senior American Legion
Sportsmen ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Scamardo, lf 5 1 1 1 Nelson, 2b 4 0 1 0
M.Turner, ss 5 0 2 2 Hurt, 2b 1 0 0 0
Rogers, 1b 4 0 1 1 Brown, p 3 1 2 1
Walker, dh 5 0 2 0 Cross, p 1 0 0 0
Glover, rf 5 1 2 0 Taylor, ss 5 1 2 0
Benson, 3b 5 1 2 0 Mayall, lf 4 1 2 1
Mobely, c 4 0 0 0 Pickett, 1b 5 1 3 2
D.Turner, 2b 3 2 3 0 Joiner, rf 4 1 2 0
Wilhelm, cf 3 2 2 1 Pultro, cf 4 1 1 0
Nash, p 0 0 0 0 Castleberry, 3b 3 1 1 1
Floyd, p 0 0 0 0 Lessenberry, c 2 1 0 1
Totals 39 7 15 5 Totals 36 8 14 6
Fort Smith 003 101 011 — 7
BRYANT 010 023 002 — 8
No one out when winning run scored.
E—Nelson, Nash. DP—Fort Smith 1, Bryant 3. LOB—Fort Smith 9, Bryant 9. 2B—Scamardo, Pickett, Wilhelm, Brown, D.Turner, Glover, Mayall. SB—Wilhelm. S—Mobely, Castleberry, Brown.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Nash 5.1 6 4 10 2 1
Floyd (L) 2.2 2 2 4 1 0
Brown 6 5 3 10 2 4
Cross (W) 3 2 2 5 0 2
Floyd faced three batters in the ninth.
HBP—D.Turner (by Brown). WP—Brown.