Photos courtesy of Kevin Nagle
HOT SPRINGS — The Bryant Hornets got lots of people some playing time and seven pitchers work on the mound in a preseason game against the Lakeside Rams on Thursday night. With 18 hits, they took advantage of seven walks, two hit batemen and seven Lakeside errors to a 20-13 win that, under normal circumstances would’ve been an 18-7 run-rule after five innings.
Lakeside, too, got some work for seven pitchers and playing time for lots of others. The Rams had 10 hits to take advantage of five walks, three hit batsmen and four Bryant errors.
The game was a tune-up for the Hornets’ regular-season opener on Monday, Feb. 29, at home against Arkadelphia.
Bryant led at one point 16-2. The Hornets only had two innings in which they didn’t scored at least two runs. They stranded the bases loaded in the fourth and left two on in the scoreless seventh.
“I thought, offensively, we did a good job,” acknowledged Bryant head coach Kirk Bock. “Defensively, we didn’t do a very good job. It’s not every day you can come out and score stinkin’ 20.
“I thought our effort and our attitude was really good,” he added. “In order for us to be successful, we’ve just got to clean up a few things. And we’re close. We’re closer right now than I think we have been before, starting off.
Only three of the Ram’s first eight runs were earned. They scored five in the seventh after two were retired.
Bock was mostly concerned with getting his seven hurlers on the mound against another team.
“For the most part,” he said after being asked if he was pleased with their performances. “We had six or seven freebies from the mound, where we hit them or walked them. If we can stay away from that, it’d be a lot different game.”
Senior aces Zach Jackson and Evan Lee worked the first two innings. Seth Tucker, Beaux Bonvillain, Austin Kelly, Boston Heil and Ty Medford followed up. Lee was the only one that worked a 1-2-3 frame. Jackson was a strike away from doing that but hit a batter on a 2-2 pitch with two down. Lakeside’s Jon Youngblood followed with the first of his two hits. Colton O’Keefe fought off a Jackson delivery for a single to right to load the bases. Before Jackson ended the inning with a strikeout, however, an errant throw on a pick-off play allowed two runs to score.
But the Hornets had already roughed up Youngblood, the Rams’ ace for six runs on six hits in the top of the first. Logan Allen walked and Dylan Hurt laced a single to right. Lee followed with the first of the team’s seven extra-base hits, a shot to the fence in left-center for a two-run triple.
Allen, Hurt, Lee, Garrett Misenheimer and Jake East, the first five in the Hornets’ starting lineup had two hits each. Of those, only East batted after the third inning.
The first inning continued with Misenheimer’s RBI single. After he moved up on a wild pitch, East grounded to the right side and reached on an errant throw that allowed Misenheimer to score.
With East at second, Joey Cates traded places by drilling a two-batter to right-center.
Youngblood finally managed to get an out but Austin Kelly plugged the gap moments later for an RBI double to make it 6-0.
The Hornets, aided by three Lakeside errors scored seven more in the second against lefty Blayne Porterfeld. Misenheimer had his second single in the inning, a perfect hit-and-run to the right side with Jordan Gentry, the courtesy runner for Lee who had walked, off on the pitch.
Later, Aaron Orender came through with a sacrifice fly and Hurt belted a two-run triple before Lee capped the inning with an RBI single.
After Lee fanned two in his inning on the mound, the Hornets took advantage of another error, which allowed East to reach to get three more runs. Cates walked and Cameron Coleman delivered a single up the middle to load the bases. East made a heady base-running play when Kelly hit a pop behind first base that the Lakeside second baseman tracked down, running into foul territory. Tagging, East hustled home to make it 14-2. Alertly, Cates and Coleman tagged and advanced as well. Allen then came through with a two-out single to chase them home.
Lakeside used doubles by Brandon Hall, Youngblood and Race Tittle to score three times in the bottom of the third. A pair of errors helped them get two unearned runs on one hit in the home fourth.
The Hornets got those two back in the top of the fifth. With two down, Gentry beat out an infield hit. Scott Schmidt and Myers Buck each walked to load the bases for East, who stroked a single to left. Gentry scored and when the ball was booted in the outfield, so did Schmidt.
Kelly pitched a scoreless home fifth, walking a pair and fanning two.
In the Hornets’ sixth, Seth Tucker hit a drive to center that was played into a triple. With two down, Coleman lashed an RBI double to left. Gentry struck out on a pitch in the dirt but reached when the Lakeside catcher threw errantly to first. That allowed Coleman to score the 20th run.
The Rams got another unearned run in the sixth then put together three hits including a two-run double by Youngblood to take advantage of a hit batsman and two walks to get the final five runs.