LISBON — Thanks to the way the baseball diamond is configured, left-handed pitchers’ pickoff moves generally can be classified as good, better or best.
Chris Bryant has worked feverishly with his body language and leg kick to put himself in the upper-middle category. In Thursday’s seventh inning against Lisbon, though, the St. Dominic Regional High School senior pulled one from the superlative end of the spectrum.
“If you’ve got a move like that,” said Lisbon coach Randy Ridley, “you don’t use it until you need it.”
Facing a full count against Scott Eck with two out and the potential tying run on first, Bryant froze Marcus Bubar about four footsteps down the baseline. Fittingly it was Bryant who applied the tag at the end of the resulting rundown to punctuate a 2-1 victory in a Mountain Valley Conference southern division showdown.
Earlier, Bryant (4-0) picked off Andy Tupper to erase a St. Dom’s error in the sixth. He struck out three, walked two and limited the Greyhounds to six hits.
“It’s something I’ve worked on all four years here,” Bryant said of the trickery that also involves catcher Kyle Hargreaves, first baseman Kurt Johnson and coach Bob Blackman. “It’s big because it keeps runners from going first-to-third against us.”
Several deliberate tosses from Bryant to Johnson earlier in Eck’s at-bat merely kept Bubar honest. Once the count climbed to 3-and-2, though, the Greyhounds (10-2) concluded that St. Dom’s would concentrate on the hitter.
“It’s been a part of his arsenal for so long, and you think that they know it,” Blackman said. “You’re kind of looking out of the corner of your eye and listening with your ears there, and I didn’t hear anyone in their dugout say ‘make sure he goes to the plate.’ So I called for it.”
Lisbon’s final two outs both unraveled on the basepaths.
Ryan Riordan led off the inning with his second hit of the afternoon, a floater to right field that dropped just in front of Will Desmarais.
Jo Osmond’s sacrifice bunt did its job and moved Riordan to second. When the Greyhounds saw nobody from St. Dom’s covering third, base coach Ridley beckoned Riordan in that direction.
The brief hesitation and an ensuing stumble left Riordan in no-man’s land. Joe Bryant tagged him out at second.
St. Dom’s (9-2) extended its winning streak to eight games and completed a season sweep of Lisbon. The Saints stormed to a 10-0 win on their home field.
“Our intensity level was much higher this time,” said Ridley. “Those were two good teams and two good pitchers. I can’t say enough about how both teams played.”
Frank Angelico dealt brilliantly for Lisbon in a 90-minute nail-biter. St. Dom’s reached the right-hander for only four hits. Both runs were unearned. Angelico threw only 71 pitches in the seven-inning route.
Garrett Darnell cranked a two-out double and scored on a throwing error in the second.
Desmarais and Shayne Curtis delivered consecutive singles to get St. Dom’s started in the sixth. Alex Parker’s attempted sacrifice resulted in a fielder’s choice and an errant, late throw to third, allowing Desmarais to score the go-ahead run.
Lisbon tied the game in the fourth on a two-out double by Tupper and Riordan’s RBI single. But for the second straight inning, the Greyhounds lamented the missed opportunity when they left the bases loaded.
Chris Bryant caught Angelico looking at a 3-2 pitch on the outside corner to escape the third. And Joe Bryant’s leaping snag of Bubar’s line drive saved two runs to end the fourth.
“That was the game,” Blackman said of the defensive gem. “With two outs, everybody was running.”
“I thought the ball was already behind him when he went up and got it,” said Ridley. “It was just a phenomenal play.”