Even after the Sheridan senior team scored six runs in the third inning, Relyance Bank was never out of the game.
A flurry of hits including three two-run doubles kept Relyance in it, and a one-run single by Daniel Gray in the fifth proved to be the difference Friday night as the defending AA state champion from Pine Bluff defeated Sheridan 9-8 in a time-limited game at the Freddie Wetzler Memorial American Legion Tournament at Taylor Field.
Gray’s winning hit was part of a three-run fifth inning that gave Relyance (formerly Pine Bluff National Bank) the lead. It followed up a two-run double by Hunter Hale with two outs.
Gray then retired the Sheridan bats in order to seal the victory. He gave up two hits, both doubles, and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings.
It was a game where both defenses struggled while their offenses thrived. Sheridan (2-3) led 2-0 after two innings on a one-run Evan Thompson single and Tyler McKinzie run on a ball past second base. Relyance (3-1) tied the game at 2 with a Justin Archer sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded balk against starter Keaton Ramsey.
Then, Sheridan’s outburst began. An error at third base allowed Thompson to reach and Lathan Wylie, who got on with an error at shortstop, to score. A walk and hit batsman later, McKinzie drove in two runs, followed by a run on an Andrew Clark fielder’s choice and a two-run Brady Bibb double.
Relyance quickly pulled within 8-6 in the top of the fourth, thanks to two-run doubles by Antoine Luster and Aaron Johnston. B.J. Pullman led off the inning with a double, and two batters where hit.
Ramsey was chased, having allowed four earned runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. Wyatt Daggett took the loss after the rough fifth inning.
Relyance starter Daniel Sprinkle gave up five earned runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings for a no-decision.
Relyance held a 7-6 hitting advantage, led by Johnston’s 2-for-3 performance. Chase Davis was 2-for-3 to lead Sheridan.
Simmons 5, Russellville 0
In the first game of the Wetzler tournament, Simmons’ Nick Hefley struck out two and held Russellville to two hits in five innings for the victory.
Hefley also went 2 for 2 with a walk. Garrett Dedman, Justin Dardenne and J.P. Aiken each doubled for the Pine Bluff senior Legion team.