Zone 4 Senior American Legion tournament: Bryant 10, Little Rock Blue 0
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
The strategy of Little Rock Post 1 Blue manager Mike Johnson was sound enough: Take some pitches, try to make Bryant ace lefty Trent Daniel throw a lot of pitches and get him out of the Zone 4 tournament game between the two teams while, hopefully, staying close. That way, maybe, his team could put something together late and steal a win from the top-seeded Black Sox.
It worked and it didn’t.
Daniel issued six walks and threw 125 pitches, leaving the game after six innings of work in favor of right-hander Justin Blankenship. The problem was, Blue could only manage a pair of singles along the way and whenever Daniel needed to make a pitch, he invariably did, striking out 14 in his six innings of work and forcing the Little Rock team to strand nine.
And the Sox, aided by a trio of Blue errors and some aggressive baserunning, built a 10-0 lead in those six innings. So when Blankenship worked a 1-2-3 seventh, Bryant had a shutout victory that not only improved the Sox to 25-4 on the season but moved them within a win of clinching a return to the Senior American Legion State Tournament. Bryant will play Texarkana on Sunday at 1 p.m., in the winners bracket final with the State bid on the line and a spot in the Zone tourney championship round.
Blue bounced back later on Saturday to oust Pine Bluff Simmons. The Little Rock team which represented the league, along with Bryant, in last summer’s State tournament, plays Benton in an elimination game on Sunday at 4, with the winner coming back at 7 to play the loser of the 1 p.m. game for the second State bid from the Zone.[more]
Offensively, Bryant was led by Kaleb Jobe who went 3-for-4 including a solo homer and two runs batted in, along with Austin Benning, who was 2-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly, driving in four as the bottom of the Bryant lineup contributed to all four of the team’s scoring innings.
Daniel worked around a pair of walks in the first, recording his first strikeout to retire the side. He surrendered a single to Davis Ward to start the second then struck out the side. In the third, he fanned the side around a one-out walk to Daron Watson. Ben Anderson’s single with two out in the fourth wound up being Little Rock Blue’s last. Daniel fanned two in that inning and three more in the fifth to work his way around a trio of walks that had the bases loaded for Blue.
By that time, however, the Sox had built a 7-0 lead.
Jobe broke the ice on the second pitch of the second inning, belting a high drive to right that Anderson, the Blue right fielder lost in the high sky, only to have it sail over the fence for a solo homer. Brady Butler walked and Brennan Bullock laced a double inside the right-field line. Benning hit a bouncer toward the hole at short only to have Ward, the third baseman, make a diving stop. He got up to throw home to try to get an out but Butler beat it to make it 2-0.
With Bullock at third, Benning stole second, drawing a throw that got past the second baseman. Bullock scored to make it 3-0.
B.J. Ellis walked and Blankenship flew to deep right. Benning tagged from second on the play and made it to third. Ellis, meanwhile, got caught between first and second, getting into a rundown. Benning broke for the plate and when the relay there was off, he was able to slide in safely with the fourth run.
In the third, Butler blooped a two-out single to left and raced home when Bullock’s fly to right was dropped. Bullock wound up at third and he scored from there on a bloop single to center by Benning, making it 6-0.
Bryant tacked on a run in the bottom of the fifth. Singles by Hunter Mayall and Jobe started the inning. Butler walked to load the bases. With the infield in, Bullock bounced to Dustin Ward at first. Ward threw home for a force but, moments later, Benning came through with a sacrifice fly to get Jobe home.
Daniel struck out two in the sixth but one of them reached on a pitch in the dirt. Jobe, the Bryant catcher, tried to tag Anderson but dropped the ball and, by the time, he regained possession, his throw to first was late. But Benning made a nice play on a grounder to the right side that got past Butler as he ranged off of first. Daniel covered and Benning hit him with the throw in time for the second out. Daniel’s second strikeout of the inning and 14th of the game ended the frame.
And Bryant put the finishing touches on the score in the bottom of the sixth, sparked by a lead-off double to right by Blankenship. Caleb Garrett singled up the middle and Tyler Sawyer got the run home despite being robbed of a hit. His sharp grounder to the right side was knocked down by first baseman Michael Marsh. The ball ricocheted to second baseman John Gray who got it back to Marsh, who had scrambled back to the bag to take the throw.
Will Andress, the third Blue pitcher after Taylor Brown and Marsh, got the second out on a fly to center but Jobe doubled in a run. Butler was hit by a 3-2 pitch and Bullock singled to load the bases for Benning who drew an RBI walk to cap things off.
BRYANT 10, LR BLUE 0
Senior American Legion
Little Rock Blue ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Ty.Brown, c 3 0 0 0 Blankenship, rf-p 4 1 1 0
Watterson, ph 1 0 0 0 Garrett, cf 2 1 1 0
Watson, lf-3b 3 0 0 0 Sawyer, ss-1b 4 0 0 1
Du.Ward, cf-1b-lf 2 0 0 0 Mayall, 3b 4 0 1 0
Ta.Brown, p-ss 1 0 0 0 Jobe, c-ss 4 3 3 2
Marsh, 1b-p 3 0 0 0 Butler, 1b-rf 1 2 1 0
Da.Ward, 3b 3 0 1 0 Bullock, lf 4 2 2 0
Andress, p 0 0 0 0 Benning, 2b 2 1 2 4
Speed, ss-cf 3 0 0 0 Ellis, dh-c 3 0 0 0
Gray, 2b 2 0 0 0 Daniel, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 24 0 2 0 Totals 28 10 11 7
LR Blue 000 000 0 — 0
Bryant 042 013 x — 10
E—Ty.Brown, Marsh, Anderson, Jobe. LOB—Little Rock Blue 9, Bryant 8. 2B—Bullock, Blankenship, Jobe. HR—Jobe. SB—Du.Ward, Garrett 2, Benning. SF—Benning.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Ta.Brown (L) 3 6 2 5 3 3
Marsh 2 1 1 2 2 1
Andress 1 3 3 4 1 1
Daniel (W) 6 0 0 2 6 14
Blankenship 1 0 0 0 0 0
HBP—Butler (by Andress).