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BRYANT â€” With a win Thursday the Hornets clinched their third 7A Central title in three years, as well as a No. 1 seed in the 7A State Tournament next week in Fort Smith.
Bryant split a doubleheader with Little Rock Catholic Thursday, winning the first game 3-2 with a comeback rally and walk-off hit in the bottom of the last inning.
Tied 2-2 with two outs, senior Lucas Castleberry brought in senior Evan Jobe from second base to win the game.
The Hornets (20-6, 10-4 7A Central) came to bat down 2-0, but senior Landon Pickett led off with a solo home run to make the score 2-1. Then junior Dylan Cross, who reached second off a double, was advance to third by a sacrifice bunt from senior Chris Joiner and came home off a sacrifice fly by junior Josh Pultro.
Head coach Kirk Bock said winning the conference championship "was a pretty big feat for us."
"The guys were extremely excited," he said.
Before the seventh inning, Bryant was held to only one hit, as the game turned out to be a pitchers' battle.
Bock said, "Our offensive approach worked out pretty good for us, and we stuck with that plan until the end."
He said the Hornets' plan was to battle Catholic's pitcher in several "phases," including "early on taking two pitches" and later "not swinging at breaking balls until they had a strike."
"We were trying to get his pitch count up," Bock said.
Junior Jordan Taylor pitched for the Hornets, giving up two runs â€” one in the sixth and one in the seventh â€” on six hits, six strikeouts and two walks.
Catholic took the second game of the night, winning 7-4 after getting off to an early 5-0 lead after two innings.
A sweep by the Rockets would have given them the 7A Central title.
Senior Caleb Milam started on the mound for the Hornets, but was pulled after 1 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits with one strikeout and one walk.
Junior Quinton Motto relieved him and pitched the rest of the game, allowing two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
"We didn't do a good job offensively or defensively in the first two innings," Bock said. "We certainly weren't overconfident. We just had a little letdown."
In the third inning, with bases loaded Joiner hit a two-run single that plated senior Tyler Brown and Pickett, making it a 5-2 game.
In the fifth, Pickett scored another run off a wild pitch. He had reached base after being beaned in his protective arm guard, which Catholic head coach Dustin Strube fruitlessly argued to the umpire had hit his bat.
Ahead 5-3, Catholic scored two more runs in the sixth off a two-run triple, leaving the score 7-3.
The Hornets would score one more run in the bottom of the inning when junior Tyler Wilson scored on another passed ball, resulting in a 7-4 score that stayed on the board despite Bryant getting two runners on base in the seventh with no outs, unable to capitalize.
The Hornets host Monticello at 4 p.m. today and Lake Hamilton at 5 p.m. Monday.