UPDATE WITH REVISIONS: Panthers sting Bryant on Hornet turf
Editor’s note: The Courier is reprinting the following updated article on Saturday’s game, originally published in Sunday’s edition of the Courier, because several errors by the original reporter — a non-staff, contributing writer — were inadvertently overlooked the first time around. The Courier regrets the errors and apologizes for any inconvenience, as we strive for accuracy in all we do and are committed to correcting our mistakes accordingly.
The day started off well for the Benton Panthers when they traveled to Bryant to face the Hornets on Saturday afternoon.
Junior Brooks Balisterri started off the game with a triple to right center field and made it home on a sacrifice grounder with one out by senior Ashton Roberts. Benton closed out the top of the first inning up 1-0, stranding senior Stuart Levy and sophomore Carson Holloway who both had base hits during the inning.
In the bottom of the first, Bryant fought back, scoring two runs thanks to three fielding errors committed by the Panthers. Chris Joiner drew an open walk then Taylor Brown’s attempt a sacrifice bunt resulted in a throw to first that pulled Colton Lee off the bag.
With runners on at first and second, Tyler Nelson reached on an error by pitcher Garrison Roy, which loaded the bases. Dylan Cross hit a fly ball to center field but Greg Pryor dropped the fly ball, leaving the bases loaded.
A walk to Landon Pickett forced in a run but Benton was able to escape without any further damage thanks to a fielder’s choice, a strike out by Pultro and a ground out from Evan Jobe.
“Anytime you can beat Bryant, it is a good win,” Benton coach Mark Balisterri said. “They have a good program and we had to fight to win.”
After losing to Central Arkansas Christian last night, Balisterri said it felt good to be able to bounce back and feel pretty good going into conference.
At the top of the third inning, Balisterri doubled and was moved over on a sacrifice fly. Balisterri later scored on an infield hit by Roberts, tying the score at 2-2. In the bottom of that inning, Back to back singles by Pickett and Taylor put runners on first and second with one out. A walk to Jobe loaded the bases and an RBI single by Lucas Castleberry scored Pickett, leaving the score at 3-2 in Bryant’s favor at the end of the third inning.
At the top of the fourth, Bryant brought in Nelson as a relief pitcher and Benton turned it into a productive inning. Roy singled and was driven home by sophomore Taylor Schmidt. Schmidt was driven home by Roberts after Balisterri was walked then Levy doubled and scored both Roberts and Balisteri. In the middle of the fourth, then, Benton was up 6-3.
“If you take a play or two away that we didn’t make, we would win the game handily,” Balisterri said. “But we were able to come up with some big hits in the crunch.”
Benton started four sophomores in Saturday’s game against Bryant and two of them — Holloway and Schmidt — were able to come up with some “big hits.”
“Stuart Levy hit the ball well too,” Balisterri said. “He had a huge two-run double. It makes a big difference, having him back in the line up.”
The Panthers brought in Roberts to pitch and the Hornets scored their last runs of the game. A fielding error brought in Bryant senior Tyler Brown, then a double from Pultro scored Pickett and junior Jordan Taylor. The score at the end of the fourth inning was tied at 6-6. Pultro was thrown out on the play when he tried to stretch the double into a triple.
Bryant brought in Taylor to pitch in the sixth inning and Benton produced two more runs – a double by Greg Pryor moved Balisterri to third base and both runners scored on a dropped fly ball. Those two scores put Benton up 8-6 in the middle of the sixth and that score turned out to be the final.
Benton made one more pitching change by going to Holloway in the bottom of the seventh inning. Holloway earned the save and Roberts was credited with the win.
Benton chalked up 13 hits and committed four errors in the game while Bryant was credited with six hits and one error.
For Benton, Roy pitched three innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits with five walks and three strikeouts. Roberts pitched three innings, allowing two runs (none earned) on three hits.
Holloway earned the save pitching an inning of relief, allowing no hits and no runs.
For Bryant, Caleb Milam pitched three innings, allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits with a strikeout. Nelson pitched two innings, allowing four runs (all earned) on four hits with a walk. Taylor earned the loss pitching two innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and a strikeout.