ROGERS – With a 2-1 Rogers Mounties (West No. 4 seed) lead after five innings, the Bryant Hornets (West No. 2 seed) were right there to make their third trip to the 7A State Championship game in the past four seasons, but it was not to be as Rogers would score a combined 10 runs in the sixth and seventh innings on its way to a 12-2 win over the Hornets on Saturday in the semifinals of the 7A tourney.
Scoreless after three innings, the Mounties would strike first in the top of the fourth inning when Konstantin Storkov hit a home run to centerfield for at 1-0 lead. Carter Forbis would score on Zachary Arrick’s single for the 2-0 Rogers lead.
But, the Hornets (27-6) would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth as senior Hayden Daniel hit a home run to left field to make it a 2-1 Bryant deficit.
After a scoreless fifth inning, the Mounties put two on with two out before a single and a walk gave Rogers a 3-1 lead, and the Mounties would make it 7-1 lead after Austin Griffin cleared the bases with a 3-run double.
“We were down 2-1 with two outs,” Bryant Coach Kirk Bock said of the sixth inning. “They had guys at first and second, they hit a hard ground ball to the first baseman, (Jason) Hastings dives and gets it, throws it to Pete (pitcher Hayden Daniel) at first base and we didn’t get the call. They said he pulled off. I don’t know if he did or not. I’m not saying he missed the call, we didn’t make the play. If we make that play right there, there’s no doubt in my mind we win it, but we didn’t.”
Rogers would add five more runs in the top of the seventh to put the score at 12-1. Junior Hornet shortstop Trevor Ezell would hit an RBI single to score sophomore Brandan Warner, who had reached on a leadoff double.
“We’ve won four conference championships in five years and two state championships in three appearances,” Bock said. “These seniors have had a good career. We played well. We got better every week. But you get in that situation in the state tournament and a lot of times you have to have breaks. We didn’t get any breaks, but we didn’t make any either. Usually that’s what you got to do.”
Daniel and Warner each went 2 for 3, senior Hayden Lessenberry and junior Korey Thompson each went 1 for 3, and senior Marcus Wilson went 1 for 4. Ezell went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
“He ended up with five hits this weekend and he was right at 50 going into the tournament,” Bock said of Ezell. “You end up with 50 hits in a year, you’ve done something. I don’t think I got 50 hits in my high school career.”