Zebra gifts help Hornets forge blow-out win

File photo by Kevin Nagle

PINE BLUFF — There were gifts galore for the Bryant Hornets on Tuesday night at Taylor Field. The Pine Bluff Zebras issued 15 walks, hit six batters and made seven errors. The Hornets took advantage with nine hits to produce a 24-5 win in five innings.

Logan Chambers and Austin Ledbetter each had two hits. Ledbetter drove in five runs while Brandon Hoover and Scott Schmidt each knocked in three.

Schmidt picked up the win on the mound for the Hornets. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out five.

Bryant took a 3-0 lead in the first with a pair of runs scoring on a double to left-center by Ledbetter that Pine Bluff centerfielder Wes Hunt nearly caught after a long sprint to the gap. When his throw was misplayed by the shortstop Chris Mack Jr., Ledbetter wound up at third. He scored on a wild pitch.

A walk, a stolen base and an error on a wind-blown drive to right produced a run for Pine Bluff in the bottom of the inning.

Neither team scored in the second, but Bryant’s onslaught resumed in the third. Ledbetter was hit by a pitch and was sacrificed to second by Peyton Dillon. Matthew Sandidge then yanked a double inside the line in right to pick up an RBI.

Coby Griener was struck by a pitch then Hoover singled to drive in Sandidge. Myers Buck was plunked to load the bases for Chambers, who hit a grounder to second. A late decision to try to get the force at second resulted in an errant throw and two runs scored to make it 7-1.

Pine Bluff managed its first hit in the third, a one-out double by Rod Stinson Jr. But he was stranded.

Bryant’s eight-run third began with Dillon getting hit by a pitch and Sandidge drawing a walk. Greiner got a bunt down that rolled right up the third-base line for a single to load the bases. Hoover force in a run when he was hit by a pitch. Sandidge followed on a wild pitch and, after Buck walked, Chambers singled to right to add to the total.

A walk to Schmidt forced in a run then Jake Wright burned the center fielder for a two-run double. Ledbetter greeted a new pitcher with a sacrifice fly. Errors on balls hit by Sandidge and Greiner capped the scoring.

But only for that inning.

It was 15-1 and Schmidt was intent on throwing strikes, particularly after he hit Chris Cobb on a 1-2 delivery to start the home fourth. Hits by Kaleb Taylor, Cason Blunt, Hunt and Mack Jr., produced three runs. Then Stinson added an RBI with a sacrifice fly to make it 15-5 before Schmidt struck out Cameron Crane to end the inning.

Bryant scored nine more times in the fifth, aided by two errors and seven walks. Schmidt drove in two runs, one on a squeeze bunt that was misplayed and another on a single up the middle. Chambers and Ledbetter each had RBI singles as well.

Schmidt eased through a 1-2-3 fifth with the help of a diving catch in shallow left-center by Sandidge.

The Hornets, now 5-1-1, will play next in their 7A-Central Conference opener at Fort Smith Northside on Tuesday, March 13.

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