By Rob Patrick
Photos by Rick Nation
With nine inning games every time out once the post season begins, a Senior American Legion team needs plenty of arms. Bryant Black Sox manager Darren Hurt hopes he has enough and, for one last tune-up, he gave six of the eight or nine he’ll be counting on an appearance in the team’s last regular-season game Tuesday night. As a group, Nate Rutherford, Tyler Brown, Ozzie Hurt, Hayden Daniel, Landon Pickett and Tryce Schalchlin limited the Sylvan Hills Bruins to just five singles, while walking three, hitting a batter and striking out six.
And with the Sox hammering out 15 hits, they dismissed the Bruins in eight innings of the nine scheduled, by run-rule, 11-1.
Pickett and Jordan Taylor each contributed three hits. Hunter Mayall, Ozzie Hurt and Tyler Brown added two each.
Pickett, Taylor, Mayall, Brown and Josh Pultro were all playing their last home game for the Sox. Pultro added an RBI single and a walk to the output.
Bryant, now 23-4 overall, wound up in a three-way tie for first place during regular season Zone 4 play. By the tiebreaker, the Sox will be the No. 2 seed at the Zone Tournament in Texarkana this weekend. Texarkana, which beat out Bryant in the 2011 State championship game, is the No. 1 seed. Both receive a first-round bye in the Zone tourney. To open the tournament on Friday, Sheridan, the third of the tri-champs, will play sixth-seeded Little Rock Express while four and five seeds, Benton and Little Rock Blue battle.
Bryant will play the winner of the Sheridan-Express game Saturday at 1 p.m. Texarkana will open against the winner of the Benton-Blue game. The two teams that reach the finals of the double-elimination tourney will advance to State in North Little Rock starting July 27.
Like Bryant, Sylvan Hills is a two seed in its league, Zone 3.
“We threw everybody we wanted to throw, just an inning apiece (for some) but I thought every one of them was sharp,” Hurt said of Tuesday’s outing. “‘Petey’ (Daniel) came in and struggled a little bit at the first but then he settled in and threw real well. I thought we got exactly what we wanted out of (the game).”
Rutherford walked the first batter he faced, Greg Atcheson, but catcher Hayden Lessenberry threw him out when he tried to steal. Rutherford went on to set down the next five batters to complete his stint on the mound.
At the plate, meanwhile, the Sox scored in each of the first five innings. They got three in the first and three more in the second. Mayall drew a walk to start the first inning, stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. Tyler Nelson had walked along the way, swiped second as well and, on the wild pitch that scored Mayall, reached third. Taylor lashed a single to left to drive him home.
Taylor stole second and took third on another wild pitch by Sylvan Hills ace J.D. Miller. Pultro drew a one-out walk and another wild pitch allowed Taylor to score before, with a 2-0 count on Lessenberry, Conner Eller was called on to take over on the mound.
He got out of the inning but the Sox got to him in the second when Brown singled up the middle and Mayall plugged the gap in left-center for an RBI double. The Bruins caught him in a rundown between second and third but he slipped through the netting and arrived safely at third. Taylor doubled him home then scored on a base hit by Lessenberry to make it 6-0.
Brown took over on the mound in the third and issued a walk to Austin Speers and, with two down, another pass to Atcheson. Eller then singled up the middle to drive in the Bruins’ lone run of the game. Ironically, it was the first earned run Brown had surrendered this season over six previous appearances and 21 innings.
He hit L.J. Wallace with a hit to load the bases but got Miller to ground out to Nelson at short to end the inning. In the fourth, he retired the side in order.
Bryant’s third brought two more runs. Hurt reached on a bad-hop single then Brown drew a walk. After Eller gave way to Hunter Heslep, a wild pitch put them at second and third for Mayall, who delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 7-1.
Taylor walked with two down then Pickett yanked a single into left to drive in the run, his team-leading 41st RBI of the season.
Daniel singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth. A wild pitch got him to second then he stole third and scored on another errant delivery. On the next pitch, Brown singled but he was stranded.
The Sox reached double-digits for the 10th time this season and the third game in a row when, in the fifth, Taylor doubled, Pickett cued an infield single to the right side and Pultro ripped one past the first baseman for his RBI single.
Hurt pitched the fifth and gave up a pair of hits but, after Atcheson sacrificed Ryan Briscoe and Blake Maddox to second and third, Hurt picked Briscoe off third. The inning ended with Eller bouncing out to Brown at third.
Daniel took his turn on the bump in the sixth and he too surrendered a pair of lead-off singles but then he induced a grounder to Brown who tagged out Wallace coming to third. Corey Jones struck out and Spears grounded to Taylor at short to finish off the frame.
Sylvan Hills used seven pitchers and Boone was the only one who didn’t allow at least one run. The soft-tossing right-hander got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth when Daniel hit a laser shot back at him. Somehow the ball found Boone’s glove and he was able to double off the runner at first to end the inning.
He then worked the lone 1-2-3 innings of the game for the Sylvan Hills hurlers in the sixth.
Pickett pitched the seventh for Bryant and was sharp. After getting Briscoe to fly to right to conclude a nine-pitch battle, the right-hander needed just seven pitches to fan Maddox and Atcheson.
Mitchell Meyer relieved for Sylvan Hills in the seventh and worked around a walk to Taylor and Pickett’s third hit. In turn, Tryce Schalchlin made quick work of the Bruins in the eighth despite hitting Miller with a pitch.
Bryant made it a run-rule win in the bottom of the eighth when Hurt singled, Brown walked, Mayall bounced one up the middle and, with the bags filled, Schalchlin was hit by a pitch to force in the game-ending run.
BRYANT BLACK SOX 11, SYLVAN HILLS BRUINS 1
Senior American Legion
Bruins ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Atcheson, c-ss-2b-p 1 0 0 0 Mayall, lf-1b 4 2 2 2
Eller, 2b-p-ss-c 4 0 1 1 Nelson, ss-2b-cf 4 1 0 0
Wallace, cf-lf 2 0 1 0 Schalchlin, p 0 0 0 1
Meyer, p-lf 1 0 0 0 Taylor, 3b-ss 3 3 3 2
Miller, p-rf-cf 3 0 1 0 Pickett, 1b-p 5 0 3 1
Boone, lf-3b-p-2b 4 0 0 0 Pultro, rf 4 0 1 1
Heslep, rf-2b-p 2 0 0 0 Lessenberry, c 2 0 1 1
Jones, ph-3b 1 0 0 0 Graddy, c 2 0 0 0
Spears, 1b 2 1 0 0 Daniel, cf-p-lf 5 1 1 0
Brock, 3b 1 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b-p 5 2 2 0
Briscoe, rf 2 0 1 0 Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0
Maddox, ss-2b-p-3b-c 3 0 1 0 Brown, p-3b 3 2 2 0
Totals 26 1 5 1 Totals 37 11 15 8
Sylvan Hills 001 000 00 — 1
BRYANT 332 110 01 — 11
One out when game-ending run scored.
E—Maddox. DP—Sylvan Hills 1. LOB—Sylvan Hills 7, Bryant 12. 2B—Mayll, Taylor 2. SB—Mayall, Nelson, Taylor and Daniel. S—Atcheson. SF—Mayall.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Miller (L) 0.1 3 3 1 3 1
Eller 1.2 5 5 5 1 2
Heslep 2 1 1 3 1 2
Maddox 0.1 1 1 3 0 0
Boone 1.2 0 0 0 0 0
Meyer 1.1 1 1 3 2 0
Atcheson 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rutherford 2 0 0 0 1 1
Brown (W) 2 1 1 1 2 1
Hurt 1 0 0 2 0 0
Daniel 1 0 0 2 0 1
Pickett 1 0 0 0 0 2
Schalchlin 1 0 0 0 1 1
Eller faced two battters in the third.
Atcheson faced one batter in the eighth.
HBP—Walker (by Brown), Graddy (by Maddox), Schalchlin (by Atcheson). WP—Miller 3, Brown, Heslep 5. PB—Atcheson 2.