Taylor, Cross spark Senior Sox to crucial win to gain split with Texarkana
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
For five innings in each of their games on Sunday, the Bryant Black Sox and the Texarkana Razorbacks were just about even. But they took turns beating up on each other late as they split a Zone 4 doubleheader, leaving them tied for second in the league pending Bryant’s regular-season finale against top-seeded Pine Bluff on Tuesday.
Right-hander Jordan Taylor came through with a clutch performance on the mound for the Sox in the second game, a 6-1 win in which Bryant snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth and added on four in the seventh.
In the first game, Bryant’s Dylan Cross dueled Texarkana’s Jon Phillips until the visitors scored six unearned runs in the top of the sixth on the way to a 9-1 victory.[more]
Texarkana’s win knocked Bryant out of a chance to catch Pine Bluff Simmons for a share of the regular-season league title. And, in turn, Bryant’s win in the second game ended Texarkana’s hope to catch the Bankers.
Bryant and Texarkana will finish second and third, respectively, setting up a re-match at the District Tournament which begins Friday, July 16, at Bryant High School Field.
Benton McClendon’s will be seeded fourth and Little Rock Continental Express fifth. They too will be pitted against each other in a Friday opener at District.
“We knew we had to win one today to get that two or three seed,” stated Bryant manager Darren Hurt. “That’s big in the bracket. It was a must-win. We didn’t want to go into Tuesday having to win with the tournament starting Friday and having to use a lot of pitching on Tuesday to get to Friday.”
Taylor gave up nine hits but didn’t walk anyone. And he was backed by errorless defense. The Sox turned a doubleplay and Cross, catching the second game, threw out another base-runner trying to steal. The Razorbacks stranded six and Taylor brought it home by retiring the last seven batters he faced.
“At the first part of the game, he was having trouble throwing the curveball for strikes and they were just laying off of it and sitting fastball,” Hurt mentioned. “Once he got command of all three pitches, he controlled the ballgame. He’s got to throw all his pitches for strikes and when he does, he’s good.”
Cross led the offense with three hits including a clutch two-strike, two-out RBI double in the top of the sixth that drove in the tie-breaking run.
“And he was worn out,” Hurt noted. “But he came through big for us. I didn’t know if he’d make it but he sucked it up and he gets three hits. He pitched well today too.”
Hunter Mayall, Brennan Bullock and Taylor added two hits each as the Sox snapped out of a brief offensive slump with 12 knocks.
Despite the rough finish in the opener, Bryant got out front at the outset of the second game (with Texarkana as the home team since Bryant wouldn’t be returning the trip). Mayall lashed a single to right and took second on a wild pitch by starter Reid Peavy. Chris Joiner was hit by a pitch then Taylor sacrificed them to second and third.
But it looked like it would be another frustrating inning for the Sox who stranded 16 runners between the two games — at least one in 12 of the 14 innings. Peavy fanned Brady Butler then got Brennan Bullock swinging. But the pitch got away from catcher Levi Saxby and Mayall raced home as Bullock reached first.
Taylor battled through his early struggles. He pitched around a bunt single by Daniel Thompson and a blooper to center by Josh Stringfellow that might’ve been caught had not Joiner, in center, slipped down when he started after the ball.
In the second, Cross singled to right center with one out and reached second on a wild pitch only to be stranded. Kenny Spencer likewise singled with one out in the bottom of the inning but Taylor struck out the side to keep it 1-0.
In the third, Butler singled and Bullock walked with two down but Peavy got Lucas Castleberry to sky to right to escape. Thompson singled to lead off the bottom of the inning but Cross threw him out trying to steal and, with two down, Tyler Brown speared a liner by Stringfellow to send it to the fourth.
Peavy worked around a one-out walk to Cross and a sacrifice bunt by Ozzie Hurt to set up a game-tying uprising by the Razorbacks. Consecutive singles by Shawn Hall, Jansen Clark and Saxby produced the run but Taylor kept it to that by inducing a fly to Joiner in center then getting Chris Culberson to bounce to Brown at third to start and inning-ending doubleplay.
After a scoreless fifth, Bullock started the sixth with a sharp single to right. He stole second but was still there when Cross came up with two outs. He and Peavy battled to a 3-2 count before Cross laced a drive to left for an RBI double that gave the Sox the lead again.
In turn, Taylor eased through a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, recording his fifth strikeout and getting some defensive help from Mayall at first who made a sliding catch at the fence of a foul pop to open the inning.
Bryant’s game-breaking seventh started with a single by Mayall that ended the moundwork of Peavy. Lefty Trey Selph relieved and, after Joiner chopped one to short on a hit-and-run to get Mayall to second, the Sox reeled off five singles. Taylor helped himself out with an RBI hit on a bloop down the left-field line to drive in Mayall.
After Taylor took second on a wild pitch, Butler cracked a single to right and stole second. Bullock then came through in the clutch with a shot to right-center to drive in both runs. And when the ball was mishandled in the outfield, Bullock got to second. An out later, he scored from there on a single up the middle by Brown to make it 6-1.
Taylor needed just 10 pitches to dispatch the Razorbacks in the bottom of the seventh.
In the opener, the game was scoreless through three innings but Bryant had chances to score in two of those. After Cross got through the top of the inning despite hitting a pair of batters, Mayall led off the bottom of the inning with a double. He advanced on a passed ball but Phillips struck out the next three batters to strand him.
Cross retired the side in order in the second then Landon Pickett opened the home half with a shot to gap in left-center for two bags. Bullock was hit in the helmet with a pitch then Castleberry got a perfect bunt down forcing the third baseman to come in to field it as Pickett and Bullock moved up.
On the next pitch, however, Brown bunted too, thinking he got the signal from Hurt for a squeeze. Pickett, caught by surprise and thinking he’d missed a sign, broke late from third and was tagged out as Bullock moved up into third with two down.
“Nothing was on,” Hurt said later. “Tyler just missed the sign. He was supposed to be swinging away.”
With runners still at the corners, Evan Jobe made solid contact but hit it to the big part of the field and the Saxby flagged it down to end the threat.
In turn, Texarkana made a bid to score. Merritt Giles singled on a 2-2 count then Thompson got a sacrifice bunt down that drew a wild throw to first by the Bryant pitcher.
But Cross and his teammates erased the miscue with a unique doubleplay. He picked off Giles at third with the Sox executing the rundown efficiently enough that when Thompson started to break for third, a relay to Castleberry, covering second, retired him as well.
In the fourth, however, Hall belted a 2-1 pitch for a solo homer with one out. Cross came back to retire the next two to keep it a 1-0 game.
In turn, Phillips worked around a two-out double by Bullock in the bottom of the inning.
Cross worked a 1-2-3 fifth and Phillips kept it 1-0 despite a one-out single by Jobe in the bottom of the inning.
The sixth, however, began with Thompson reaching on an error. Phillips singled but Stringfellow hit a liner to third that Brown knocked down. He got a force at third but, had he been able to hang on, it appeared he might have a doubleplay with Thompson wandering off second.
Cross then got Hall to hit a sharp one-hopper back to the mound. Again, he might’ve had a doubleplay ball had he fielded it cleanly but he did knock it down. But his rushed throw to first was wild and the bases were loaded with one out.
The floodgates opened after that. Carr singled in a run then Saxby slapped a blooper down the left-field line for a two-run double. Two more scored on a single to left by Spencer who took second on a late throw to the plate.
Cross gave way to Caleb Milam. Daniel Spears grounded out but Giles singled to make it 7-0.
Phillips eased through the bottom of the sixth, retiring the disheartened Sox in order.
Texarkana tacked on two more in the top of the seventh on singles by Stringfellow and Hall and a double by Carr that chased them both home.
Phillips retired the first two in the bottom of the inning and appeared to have the shutout win in hand when he got Brown to pop up on the infield. But Phillips, ranging over to the first-base line, dropped the ball and Brown just beat a throw to first.
He advanced on a wild pitch as Jobe worked a walk. Mayall followed with his third hit of the game and when the ball was bobbled in the outfield, Brown was able to score.
But that’s where it ended as the Sox stranded runners at second and third after having broken up the shutout.
“The pitcher (Phillips) was good but we left a lot of runners on,” Hurt commented. “We just could not get the big hit. Early on, we were kind of in the driver’s seat, it felt like. If we could just get a big hit here or there and score some runs early I think the whole game would’ve been different. Then we just made some mistakes in the one inning and it got away from us.”
TEXARKANA 9, BRYANT 1
Razorbacks ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Thompson, c 3 0 0 0 Mayall, dh 4 0 3 0
Phillips, p 4 1 1 0 Taylor, ss 4 0 0 0
Stringfellow, rf 3 2 1 0 Joiner, c 3 0 0 0
Hall, 1b 3 3 2 1 Butler, rf 3 0 0 0
Carr, 3b 4 1 2 3 Pickett, 1b 3 0 1 0
Saxby, cf 4 1 1 2 Bullock, lf 2 0 1 0
Spencer, lf 3 1 1 2 Castleberry, 2b 2 0 0 0
Spears, ss 4 0 0 0 Brown, 3b 3 1 0 0
Giles, 2b 3 0 2 1 Jobe, cf 2 0 1 0
Totals 31 9 10 9 Totals 26 1 6 0
Texarkana 000 106 2 — 9
BRYANT 000 000 1 — 1
E—Brown, Cross, Phillips, Spencer. DP—Texarkana 1, Bryant 1. LOB—Texarkana 5, Bryant 7. 2B—Mayall, Pickett, Bullock, Saxby, Carr. HR—Hall. S—Thompson, Castleberry.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Phillips (W) 7 1 0 6 1 8
Cross (L) 5.1 7 1 6 0 2
Milam 1.2 2 2 4 1 1
Balk—Milam. HBP—Stringfellow, Hall (by Cross). WP—Phillips.
BRYANT 6, TEXARKANA 1
Black Sox ab r h bi Razorbacks ab r h bi
Mayall, 1b 4 2 2 0 Thompson, dh 4 0 2 0
Joiner, cf-2b 3 0 0 0 Phillips, ss 3 0 1 0
Taylor, p 3 1 2 1 Stringfellow, 2b 3 0 2 0
Butler, rf 3 0 1 0 Hall, 1b 3 1 1 0
Jobe, rf-cf 1 1 1 0 Carr, 3b 3 0 1 0
Bullock, lf 3 2 2 2 Saxby, c 3 0 1 1
Castleberry, ss 4 0 0 0 Spencer, cf 3 0 1 0
Brown, 3b 4 0 1 1 Culberson, rf 2 0 0 0
Cross, c 3 0 3 1 Sullivan, rf 1 0 0 0
Hurt, 2b 1 0 0 0 White, lf 2 0 0 0
Pickett, ph 1 0 0 0 Spears, lf 1 0 0 0
Milam, rf 1 0 0 0 Peavy, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 31 6 12 5 Totals 28 1 9 1
BRYANT 100 001 4 — 6
Texarkana 000 100 0 — 1
E—Spencer. DP—Bryant 1, Texarkana 1. LOB—Bryant 9, Texarkana 6. 2B—Phillips, Cross. SB—Thompson, Spencer. Bullock, Jobe. S—Taylor, Hurt.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Taylor (W) 7 1 1 9 0 5
Peavy (L) 6 3 2 7 2 4
Selph 1 3 3 5 0 0
HBP—Joiner (by Peavy). WP—Peavy 3, Selph. PB—Saxby.