Sox crank up the offense to finish 11 up on 7-Up in State opener
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
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Hunter Mayall and Kaleb Jobe set the table, Brennan Bullock supplied the set up and Brady Butler burst out of a slump to clean up as the Bryant Black Sox overcame an early deficit to blow out Paragould 7-Up, 16-5, in the opening round of the Senior American Legion State Tournament at DeJanis Field at Vince DeSalvo Stadium in Burns Park on Friday.
Mayall, batting clean-up started four of Bryant’s five run-scoring innings, going 3-for-3 with a walk and a hit batsman, scoring five times and knocking in three.
Jobe, batting fifth, went 3-for-4, scored three times and drove in two with a punctuating two-run homer.
Bullock, moved up to sixth in the Bryant line-up, sacrificed successfully in both of the first two scoring innings for the Sox, went 2-for-2 with a walk, scored a run and drove one in.
Butler, coming in mired in a 3-for-24 slump, drove in the first four Sox runs — three of them on a home run — wound up 3-for-5 with two runs scored and five batted in.
Trent Daniel picked up the win with Justin Blankenship earning a save. Daniel pitched into the sixth, giving up four runs (all unearned) on six hits. He worked out of some early jams and, after the Sox got it going offensively, got tougher on the Paragould batters. A nine-run seventh for the Sox made it a blowout.
On Saturday, the Sox will play at 7 p.m. against Fort Smith Kerwins, a first-round winner over host North Little Rock Colts.[more]
A fired up Paragould team took an early lead by manufacturing a run. In the home first, Garrett Broadway singled, advanced to second then third on a groundouts and scored on a passed ball before Daniel got the third out on a fly out to Bullock in left.
Bryant’s early formula for scoring played out in the top of the second. Mayall shot a single up the middle, Jobe beat out an infield hit. Bullock got down a great bunt to move the runners up to second and third for Butler, who was jammed on an 0-2 pitch but muscled it to the right side wide of first. Paragould starter Luke Everett was slow to cover first and Butler beat it out as Mayall scored.
Everett worked out of the first-and-third jam with one out, retiring the next two and Paragould got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Luke Foster walked with one out, Jon Wheeler singled to left and, after another passed ball, Joe Taylor drove in a run on a grounder to short to make it 2-1. Tyler Wooldridge drew a walk but Daniel got out of the inning by pouncing on a surprise bunt from Broadway and throwing him out at first.
After the Sox were retired in order by Everett in the top of the third, Paragould had a chance to extend its lead in the home half. After Daniel struck out Logan Gaither, Kyle Brown walked, Tyler Nutt doubled and Travis Moe was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one down. Daniel, however, stepped up and struck out the next two to leave then stranded.
Mayall was hit by a pitch to start the fourth after fouling off a trio of two-strike pitches then Jobe walked. Bullock bunted them over and, on a 1-1 pitch, Butler unloaded on a drive that the left-fielder appeared to have lost in the sun. His late rush to the fence was futile, however, and Bryant had a 4-2 lead.
“I don’t normally bunt in the second inning,” noted Bryant manager Craig Harrison. “And let me just say, I’m proud of Brady. We bunted to get to Brady and Brennan got the job done. Brady came through. We’ve been talking about that all year, that hole comes up a lot. I didn’t know. I was happy with a groundball to first and what I though was a sacrifice fly. But I looked up and the ball’s in the grass out there.”
Daniel surrendered an infield hit to start the bottom of the fourth but then proceeded to retire seven in a row.
The Sox added on with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth. In the fifth, Mayall drew a walk after fighting off a pair of 3-2 pitches. He advanced on a wild pitch. An out later, Bullock got to take his cuts and slapped a single up the middle to chase home the run, making it 5-2.
In the sixth, Austin Benning drew a lead-off walk and B.J. Ellis did the bunting thing, getting down the sacrifice on a 1-2 pitch. Blankenship ripped a single to right and raced to second when the cut-off man bobbled the throw in.
At that point, Everett had reached 113 pitches and Curtis Jackson came on in relief. His first pitch evaded the catcher allowing Benning to score. A little later, another wild pitch got Blankenship to the plate to make it 7-2.
Taking advantage of a tough error pinned on Tyler Sawyer, the Bryant shortstop, when he made a splendid play to get to a bouncer up the middle but whirled and threw wildly to first, Paragould pushed home two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Taylor’s grounder to first got Wheeler to third but Daniel was a strike away from getting through the inning when Wooldridge singled to center to drive in the run. After a stolen base, the count went to 3-2 on Broadway who then singled in a second run.
Daniel, up to 125 pitches, gave way to Blankenship who got Gaither to fly to Caleb Garrett in center to end the inning.
Bryant’s nine-run explosion commenced with Mayall lining a single to center. Jobe ripped a base hit to right, Bullock drew a walk and Butler came through again with a solid single to center. Benning drew a walk to force in a run, Bullock scored on a wild pitch and, after Ellis walked to load the bags again, Garrett drew a an RBI pass from Brown, the third 7-Up pitcher. Sawyer delivered a run with a sacrifice fly then Mayall doubled in two ahead of Jobe’s long blast to right.
Paragould made a bid to avoid the run-rule in the bottom of the seventh, scoring on a single, a double and a sacrifice fly, but Blankenship shut it down at that point on a fly to center and a bouncer to short.