By Rob Patrick
During their streak in which they won nine out of 10 games, the Bryant Sport Shop Black Sox AA[more] American Legion team swept a doubleheader in which they played two different teams from Benton. On Sunday, they extended that run to 10 of 11 when they defeated Cabot Red, 9-2, but in the nightcap of the doubleheader, the Sox suffered a 9-6 loss to Cabot White.
The result is a 12-6 record overall going into this Tuesday’s trip to Hot Springs Lakeside.
It was a never-say-die effort in game two for the Sox as they battled back from 5-1 and 9-3 deficits to actually get the potential winning run to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
In the first game, right-hander Justin Emmerling went the distance on the mound and allowed just two unearned runs on five hits. He walked three, hit a batter and struck out six.
Dakota Besancon went 3 for 3 while Emmerling ahd Hunter Oglesby added two hits each. C.J. Phillips, who caught all 14 innings on the day, was on base three times and scored three runs.
Weston Jones paced the offense in the second game for the Sox, going 3 for 4 and driving in a pair of runs. Phillips finished strong with a big two-run double as part of Bryant’s three-run seventh.
“They’re making strides to get better,” stated Sox manager Seth Doxey. “We’re working to get better for District. That’s where we want to be clicking.”
The Zone 4 AA District Tournament will be at Benton starting Friday, July 19.
“I’m so proud of these boys,” Doxey said. “They’re playing their hearts out. They’re out here to play ball and get better.”
Bryant 9, Cabot Red 2
A four-run sixth made the final look a little more comfortable than most of the game had been. The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Phillips belted the team’s 11th triple of the season. Besancon got a bunt down to sacrifice him home.
Cabot took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second. Jacob Womack walked and Ethan Holland singled. Phillips threw out Womack trying to steal then Emmerling struck out Austin Jones. He appeared to be out of the inning when a throwing error allowed the tying run to score. The batter, Wes Brown, raced all the way to third. He would score the second run on a balk.
No Cabot baserunner got past second from that point on.
And the lead didn’t last long. In the home second, Jones belted a double to left-center and stole third. He scored on Michael Martindale’s groundout.
Emmerling worked a 1-2-3 third and the Sox regained the upper hand in response. Phillips walked, stole second, took third on an infield hit by Besancon and scored on a balk.
With Besancon at second, Emmerling hit a long fly to left that enabled him to tag and take third. He scored from there on a single up the middle by Oglesby to make it 4-2.
Austin Jones drew a one-out walk in the top of the fourth and Brown singled but Phillips threw the lead runner out trying to steal third and Emmerling got Mike Havard to pop to Nick Kehrees at second.
The Sox turned a doubleplay in the top of the fifth then tacked on a run in the bottom of the inning on two-out double by Caleb Chaffin. Besancon had singled with one out, stolen second and taken third on a wild pitch as Emmerling drew a walk to set the stage for Chaffin’s clutch hit.
Down 5-2, Cabot went in order in the top of the sixth and Bryant’s clinching outburst commenced in the bottom of the inning when, with two out, Kehrees reached on an error and Phillips was hit by an 0-2 pitch. On the next delivery, Besancon singled to left to drive in Kehrees and, when the ball was booted in left, runners wound up at second and third for Emmerling who blooped a double down the right-field line to knock home both, making it 8-2. Oglesby singled in Emmerling to set the final score.
Havard singled with two out in the top of the seventh to keep Cabot’s hopes alive but Emmerling struck out Caleb Harper to end it.
Cabot White 9, Bryant 6
Despite the final score, the game was a pitchers duel between Oglesby and Cabot lefty Gavin Tillery. A four-run fourth gave Cabot the upper hand and the Sox played catch-up the rest of the way. They were within 5-3 after six innings but then Cabot put together a four-run seventh. Gamely, the Sox rallied in the bottom of the inning, forcing Cabot to used three pitchers.
An error opened the door as Devin Fuquay reached base. With one out, Tre Davis walked to bring up Phillips at the top of the Bryant lineup. He laced a 2-1 pitch into the gap in left-center to drive in both of his teammates.
A wild pickoff throw allowed Phillips to advance to third then Besancon walked and Emmerling was hit by a pitch to load the bases and force a pitching change. Dylan Bowers got the second out on strikes but then walked Jonathan Long to force in Phillips, making it 9-6, and bringing up the hot-hitting Weston Jones. Cabot made another pitching change, bringing back Adam Hicks who had given up an RBI single to Jones in the sixth before giving way to Jonathan Latture to start the seventh.
This time, Hicks jammed Jones with an 0-2 pitch resulting in a grounder to second that ended the game.
Doxey was proud that his team for continuing to scrap and battle, giving themselves a chance at the end.
“They’re making the adjustments as opposed to me telling them they need to stay up,” he noted. “They’re taking it upon themselves.”
Davis, who had worked out of a jam in the sixth, had allowed a run in the seventh when he got the second out. But an RBI bunt single by Clay Spafford sparked Cabot. Tyler Gilbert singled in a pair, making it 9-6 before the Bryant lefty got the final out on a fly to Fuquay in center.
“When Tre got in trouble, (assistant coach) Jordan (Hunter) and I were talking about making a switch and I said I wanted to see what he had,” Doxey related. “They started hitting the ball around a little bit. If we make the change, maybe they don’t score four runs and we’re not down as much there. Hindsight’s 20-20, you know. But like I said, right now, the main thing is getting prepared for District.”
Cabot put together four hits to score four times in the fourth. Kehrees relieved Oglesby with the Sox down 2-0. A sacrifice fly and a two-out RBI single by Lee Sullivan made it 4-0.
In the bottom of the frame, Long drew a two-out walk and Jones crushed a 2-2 pitch to center for a triple.
Kehrees pitched a scoreless fifth then issued a walk and hit a batter to open the sixth. Davis relieved and got the first out when Phillips made a splendid play on a bunt that was popped up in foul territory. A walk loaded the bases for Sullivan who delivered a sacrifice fly before Davis got Odom to fly to center to end the inning.
Bryant stayed in the game with a two-run sixth. With one out, Emmerling was hit by a pitch. On an errant pickoff throw that rolled down the right-field line, Emmerling dashed all the way home.
Daniel Darbonne worked a walk and got to second on a wild pitch as Tillery’s finished up his mound time. Hicks got a strikeout before surrendering the RBI single to Jones that made it 5-3.