Simmons baffles Byrd as Benton gets district win

DOMINANT OUTING: Benton junior Sawyer Simmons struck out seven and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

Benton coach Dane Peavy went into Tuesday’s District 1-5A game against Byrd with a solid pitching plan. There was just one problem – starter Sawyer Simmons wasn’t cooperating.

Peavy figured he’d let the junior lefthander pitch into the fifth or sixth inning and then bring in hard-throwing closer Cale Latimer. But it’s hard to take a guy off the mound while he’s still pitching a no-hitter.

Though delayed a little bit, the plan ended up working in the end as Benton took a 5-2 road win over the Yellow Jackets.

“He’s been pretty steady for us all year,” Peavy said of Simmons. “We feel like he’s going to give us a chance every time he goes to the mound. He battles every out of every inning.”

A bloop single to right by David Favrot to open the sixth inning ended Simmons’ bid for a no-hitter and ended a streak of seven retired Yellow Jackets. After two wild pitches, Simmons got two strikeouts before being pulled for Latimer, the junior righty who got in on the fun with another strikeout to end the inning and then retired the side in order in the seventh.

Simmons had seven strikeouts – four of them looking — with two walks and a hit batsman.

“He was as advertised,” Byrd coach Greg Williams said. “He competes and fills up the zone. Once he settled in, it was tough for us.”

Benton got out to a 3-0 lead as Cade Stewart had a one-out to single to left, Ty Knippers was hit by a pitch and Cole Weir singled to right. A wild pitch and an RBI single by Hudson Brignac increased the lead.

The only sign of trouble for Simmons came in the second inning. After a leadoff walk to Lake Lambert, a fly ball by Patrick Snead down the right field line was misplayed – it was hit directly into the sun – and fell just inside the chalk. That scored Lambert and was followed by an RBI groundout by Dakota Futch to make it 3-2, but Simmons got three straight outs to end the Byrd rally.

“He got into a spot there that if we made a couple of plays, we could have gotten out of that with no runs,” Peavy said.

The Tigers came right back in the top of the third. Brady Blaylock singled to left and Bryson Pierce airmailed a ball to right field for a triple to make it 4-2. A double by Josh Sanchez tacked on another run, but a caught stealing and two strikeouts by Byrd starter David Favrot ended the threat.

Brignac, Pierce and Cade Stewart each had two hits in Benton’s 11-hit attack. “I thought our guys battled at the plate,” Peavy said. “We went up there with a plan and we stayed steady.”

“We had some opportunities early and couldn’t take advantage,” Williams said. “We can’t leave those runs out there and expect to win.”

The two teams will make the trip north to Benton for the return match on Thursday. Benton is tied for second with Parkway at 5-2 in the district and sits 13-9 overall. Byrd is now 2-5 in 1-5A and 11-11 overall.

“This district race is tooth-and-nail every time you go out,” Peavy said. “We just have to play the only one (game) that we can control and not worry about what else happens.”

Photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL)


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