By Chan Davis
OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF
SHERIDAN — Simmons starting pitcher V.J. Dickson lasted only four innings Saturday night in a 4-0 loss to the Little Rock Blues in a knockout game of the 19th Annual People’s Bank Wood Bat Classic at Babe Ruth Field.
Simmons coach Dennis Dardenne lasted only 6 2/3 innings. Little Rock pitcher Brandon Schmidt was removed one pitch later. Dickson left on his own. Dardenne and Schmidt were ushered to the gate.
Dardenne was ejected after the home-plate umpire warned Simmons relief pitcher Will Jacobs in the top of the seventh after a Jacobs fastball sailed behind Little Rock’s Jonathon Thompson. Jacobs had not hit a batter in two-plus innings. Dickson hit a batter in a Blues two-run first but settled in after that and was effective until his removal in the fifth after issuing a free pass to Tray Bell.
Schmidt’s troubles started in the fourth when he hit Dickson. Landen Colson was hit in the fifth, Dickson again in the sixth and Josh Dardenne and Colson were plucked again in the seventh with the Blues leading 4-0.
Dardenne came out of the dugout after Josh Dardenne’s at bat to inquire why Jacobs was warned and Schmidt was not. He continued his inquiry until the umpire ejected him.
“I’m not going to let that go,” Dardenne said. “These kids deserve that. If I don’t back them they are not going to back me. I don’t like to get thrown out. I don’t agree with it. But sometimes it does happen.”
Colson removed his helmet and started toward Schmidt on the mound after his second, prompting the dugouts to clear and both umpires to intervene.
“After the second time I knew it was intentional,” Colson said. “We had been going back and forth and he hit other players besides me. That was my second time and I knew it was going to heated.”
Little Rock coach Jordan Knight said the pitches were not intended to hit any batters.
“Those pitches were split-finger fastballs … a pitch we use when we get ahead,” Knight said. “I can’t speak for him but what I can say from our point is he is a classy kid. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone. We don’t want that. Things happen and we apologize but none of it was intentional.”
Colson’s opinion of the pitch differed.
“It was a fast ball,” Colson said. “I don’t think it was (a splitter). It looked the same speed as all the other ones. I knew he wasn’t giving me any slack.”
Being the fifth hit batter and two-time recipient, Colson removed his helmet and walked toward pitcher’s mound before others stepped in to control the possible chaos.
“I knew that I wasn’t going to hit him or anything,” Colson said. “That’s not me. I might say a couple of words but I wasn’t going to take it further than that. I’ve never charged the mound. But I’ve never been hit two times in a row. I was pretty upset about it.”
Dardenne said his angst came from the umpire issuing Jacobs a warning while allowing Schmidt to escape until his ejection in the seventh.
“That’s what really bothered me,” Dardenne said. “Besides V.J. in the first inning that was the only hit batsman we had. Then he’s going to warn Will (Jacobs) and he never even hit the kid. He’s not even warned this kid and he plugged Landon twice, Dickson and Josh (Dardenne) and he said it wasn’t blatant … that it was just an inside pitch. That’s bull.”
Schmidt was unavailable for comment after the game, but Knight defended his intentions.
“Schmidt is one of those types of pitchers that throws hard and throws five different pitches,” Knight said. “He is what you like to call ‘controllably wild’. A lot of times it is effective because he throws so hard. He likes to bust it in on people and we like to call balls in. … I know people are going to think otherwise, but I promise we are a classy organization and all those pitches were split-finger.”
In other Saturday games, Sylvan Hills beat Benton 7-4, North Little Rock Colts downed the PBNB American Legion team 8-1, Texarkana defeated Hot Springs 9-1, Cabot slipped by Lakeside 5-3, Sheridan blasted Hot Springs Village 12-0, Conway routed Rose Bud 10-0, Lake Hamilton eased past Quitman 9-1 and Little Rock Express dispatched Jacksonville 10-3.