Hornets hang on vs. Panthers

Bryant centerfielder Matthew Sandidge catches a fly ball in the Hornets’ 7-5 win over rival Benton Panthers Wednesday in Bryant. Sandidge went 2 for 4 in the victory. TONY LENAHAN/The Saline CourierBenton senior second baseman Jared Kelley makes a play in a 7-5 loss to the Bryant Hornets on the road Wednesday. TONY LENAHAN/The Saline Courier
Sports Editor

Like most of their other losses on the year, one inning would end up costing the Benton Panthers vs. rival Bryant Hornets in Bryant at Hornets Field. The Hornets would take advantage of four Panther errors in the third inning to take a 7-5 nonconference victory Wednesday.
Unfortunately for Benton Coach Mark Balisterri, it’s a scene he has seen too often this season.
“We’ve done it four times this year,” Balisterri said. “I don’t know. I really can’t explain it. We’ve got to overcome that one inning. If we’re going to make mistakes, we have to minimize them. One or two runs and we win the game. We’ve lost five games and four of those games we’ve done the exact same thing. Realistically, if we play defense in one inning of those four games, we’re sitting here at 14-1.
Instead, the Panthers sit at 10-5 while the Hornets improve to 14-5-1.
“I’m glad they gave us six in that one and I’m glad we got some calls and balls to go our way,” Bryant Coach Travis Queck said. “It’s about time. The margin of victory for us is that much (holding his index finger and thumb a quarter of an inch apart). We had a couple of opportunities against Cabot and games earlier in the year where we had line drives and you couldn’t get back and doubled off. A passed ball, I remember, hits the backstop, rolls back and got us out. The backstop got us out. It’s that, but it goes back to the details of things.
“These guys are confident. We’ve just got to keep getting better, finding out those little tweaks we’ve got to make. I really think it’s going to click for us.”
It was clicking for the Hornets in the bottom of the third. After the Panthers struck first with a run in the top of the second when senior Beau Brewer singled to start, went to second on sophomore Peyton Hudgins’ sacrifice bunt and scored on senior Jared Kelley’s RBI single up the middle for the 1-0 advantage, Bryant responded an inning later.
Senior Myers Buck reached on an infield single but ended up on third after junior Peyton Pallette’s throwing error. Junior leadoff Logan Chambers knocked in Buck with a single to center to tie things up. Benton senior pitcher Yates Prickett was called for a balk and Chambers went to third on junior Coby Greiner’s sac bunt, which Prickett threw away to allow runners at second and third. Senior Scott Schmidt followed with an RBI infield single and second baseman Kelley would have an error resulting in two more runs and 3-1 Bryant lead.
Prickett would strike out the next man before freshman Austin Ledbetter singled home Schmidt. Junior Jake Wright followed with an RBI double and scored on senior Brandon Hoover’s single to center for the 6-1 lead.
“We swung it a little bit,” Queck said. (Monday in a 2-0 loss to Conway), we were aggressive and that’s what I wanted to see. We’ve kind of gotten into that lull, the last two years we’ve gotten into that lull. They’re not going to give it to you. You’ve got to earn it.”
Benton will head to White Hall for a doubleheader today, while Bryant will host the Northside Grizzlies in 7A Central Conference action today at Hornets Field.