Hornets rout, but have work to do

BRYANT – After senior Dylan Cross pitched the Bryant Hornets to a 9-1 win over the Van Buren Pointers in 7A Central conference action in Van Buren on Friday, the Hornets continued their routing ways with an 11-1 victory over the Texarkana Razorbacks on Saturday afternoon in Bryant.
In the win against the Pointers, Cross gave up one run in a seven-inning, complete-game, giving up five hits and a walk while striking out seven.

The Hornets (14-2, 3-1 7A Central) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning before the Pointers made it 2-1 with a run in the bottom of the third. Bryant scored a run in the fifth for a two-run lead before breaking the game open in the sixth with five runs.

Leadoff man and senior Tyler Nelson went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI while junior Blaine Jackson hit a home run. Senior Ozzie Hurt went 2 for 3 and senior Jordan Taylor went 1 for 2 with two runs scored.

Against the Razorbacks, the Hornets jumped on starting pitcher Trey Jeans in the bottom of the first when Nelson singled to left and stole second base. Nelson moved to third on a balk and after junior catcher Hayden Lessenberry walked, Nelson scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. Junior Tyler Green pinch ran for Lessenberry, moved to second on the same wild pitch which scored Nelson, and scored himself on Taylor’s single to right field for a 2-0 Bryant lead. Senior left fielder Josh Pultrow doubled the next at bat to put runners at second and third with no outs, but the Hornets couldn’t capitalize. Senior Dylan Cross and Jackson struck out and junior Hayden Daniel fouled out to the first baseman to end the inning.

“We need to do a better job in the first inning when we had already scored two, nobody out at second and third,” Bryant Coach Kirk Bock said. “That’s when we need to come up with the big hit.”

Hornets’ junior starting pitcher Nathan Rutherford struck out two on his way to a 1-2-3 first inning before giving up consecutive singles to Jackson Murphy and Tevin Tosh in the top of the second. Rutherford would leave them stranded, though, when he struck out the next man, induced a ground out to shortstop and took the last out himself when a short roller had his momentum going to first, where he stepped on the bag.

Rutherford gave up his only run (unearned) in the top of the third to get the Razorbacks within 2-1. Rutherford finished the game giving up six hits and two walks in six innings, while striking out six.

“He did a good job,” Bock said of Rutherford. “He needed to make a little better quality of pitches; he threw strikes, but he left some balls up in the zone.

“He’s coming on. He’s a lot better than he was two months ago and two months from now he’s going to be better than that. He’s kind of figuring it out, but he’s on the right track.”

After being set down in order in the bottom of the second, the Hornets scored three in the third. Lessenberry reached on the second of his four walks in the game and with Green running for Lessenberry again, he reached third on a two-base wild pitch. Green scored when Taylor singled to center. Taylor reached third on two wild pitches and scored on Pultrow’s sacrifice fly to make it a 5-1 Bryant lead.

Texarkana made four errors in the fifth inning to allow Bryant five runs to make it 10-1 and Jackson ended the game when Pultrow reached on an error by the shortstop to start the bottom of the sixth. Pultrow was on third base two wild pitches later, this time by reliever Hunter Sanderson, and scored on Jackson’s would-be double to the left-center field gap to end it because of the 10-run sportsmanship rule.

“They helped us out there a lot,” Bock said of all of the Razorbacks’ errors.

Taylor went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run, Pultrow went 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI and Daniel went 1 for 2 with three RBIs from a sacrifice fly and a two-run, seeing-eye single between third and shortstop in the five-run fifth.

Though the Hornets had some success scoring, Bock said his team can’t have the missed chances like the first inning.

“We’re getting closer,” he said. “We had some dead innings there. Once we get deep in our conference, we can’t have those dead innings or it’s going to come back and haunt us.

“[The Hornets] competed and they’re on the right track, we’re just not near where we need to be right now.”

Bryant will continue conference play when Russellville comes to town on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.