BRYANT – The Benton McClendon’s Appliances and Bryant Black Sox finished up their respective regular seasons on Tuesday night at Hornets Field in Bryant, with the Sox coming away with an 8-1 victory. Bryant starter Tryce Schalchlin and reliever Ozzie Hurt combined on a one-hitter against the McClendon’s.
“It’s been like that all year,” Bryant Coach Darren Hurt said. “Our pitching has just been solid. No matter who we throw up there, we’re six deep. They all give us quality innings and it wasn’t any different [Tuesday] night.”
The two teams were playing their last games before the District Tournament, which begins Friday in Sheridan. Benton (10-17), the No. 4 seed, will take on host Sheridan at 7 p.m. on Friday, with No. 1 seed Bryant (31-3) getting the winner of the Benton/Sheridan game at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Tuesday’s affair was close until the bottom of the fifth inning. With the Black Sox leading 2-1 after four and a half, Korey Thompson and Trevor Ezell led the fifth off with consecutive singles against reliever Hunter Wray. Wray got Thompson out at third on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Ozzie Hurt, but Wray hit Marcus Wilson with a pitch to load the bases. Wray walked Tyler Nelson to force in a run and Chase Tucker followed with a single to right to make it a 4-1 game. Right fielder Hunter McDade threw Wilson out at home for the second out, but an error on shortstop Jack James allowed two more runs to score to blow the game open.
“We started off throwing strikes, getting ground balls and made the plays,” Benton Coach Brandon Wake said. “The game is close until the fifth. We have to swing the bat a little better, and we’ve got to quit looking at strike three. We can’t do that. We have to put the ball in play and make them make plays. We put the ball in play pretty much. They just made the plays.”
Schalchlin struck out six of the first nine Benton batters, with four of those looking at the third strike. Schalchlin finished with eight strikeouts in five innings. He didn’t walk a batter, giving up an unearned run in the top of the fourth.
James led the fourth off with a single up the middle for the McClendon’s. He would later score on an error by the first baseman when he received the throw off the bag, but his tag of the runner dislodged the ball from his glove allowing James to score to make it 2-1.
James picked up the only hit for Benton, going 1 for 3 with a run. Wesley Ramsey started for the McClendon’s giving up two runs on two hits in two innings. Trey Bishop pitched two scoreless innings in relief, striking out three and walking one.
For Bryant, Hurt pitched two perfect innings of relief, striking out three. Ezell went 2 for 3 with three runs and an RBI, Thompson went 2 for 3 with a run, Nelson went 1 for 2 with an RBI, and Wilson and Tucker each went 1 for 3 with Tucker adding two RBI. Hayden Lessenberry had a pinch-hit RBI double in the sixth inning.