9’s fall a win short of playing for Regional championship

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The 2019 Cal Ripken 9U Southwest Regional Tournament pretty much started over on Sunday with eight teams in a single-elimination tournament to determine the championship.

The Bryant All-Stars advanced to the semifinals with a 9-6 win over Ocean Springs, Miss., setting up a showdown with Paragould, Ark., for a shot to play for the title.

The game was tied 4-4 going into the bottom of the second. Paragould added on from there while Bryant was shut out the rest of the way. Paragould advanced with a 7-4 win, ending the visit to rain-soaked Mississippi for the Bryant Stars.

The 9’s, coached by Rick Brown with assistance from Jake Hunter, Seth Hyder and Danny Dunn, included Brady Brown, Dax Drake, Tagan Dunn, Evan Hill, Wyatt Hunter, Keller Hyder, Ethan Kelley, Austin Markham, Kaden Simmons and Crews Thomason.

Paragould 7, Bryant 4

Bryant pitchers Simmons, Dunn and Kelley allowed only three hits but nine walks, an error and hit batsman helped Paragould extract the victory. Bryant had eight hits including two each for Drake and Hunter.

Bryant took a 2-0 lead in the first when Hill was hit by a pitch with one out and Drake beat out an infield hit. Markham walked to load the bases and Hunter drove in the first run with a base hit. When Thomason grounded into a force at third, Drake scored.

Paragould used four walks and a well-timed single to grab a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the inning. But Bryant rallied to tie the game in the top of the second.

Dunn singled with one out then scored when Simmons drilled a double to right. Kelley’s base hit up the middle got the tying tally home.

A pair of two-out walks and a double steal gave Paragould the 5-4 lead in the bottom of the inning. Bryant ran down the runner trying to steal second but not until after the run had scored.

After Bryant was retired in order in the bottom of the top of the third, Paragould used two walks and two singles to increase the margin to 7-4.

Bryant didn’t threaten in the fourth. Dunn then pitched around a hit batsman and a walk in the bottom of the inning. He fanned two.

In the fifth, Hill reached second on a throwing error but was stranded. Bryant then turned a doubleplay to erase a hit batsman in the home half of the inning.

With their last chance to rally, Bryant made some noise in the top of the sixth. Hunter led off with a single to center then Thomason beat out a bunt hit. Trying to sacrifice, however, Brown’s bunt resulted in a force at third. Hyder’s grounder to third led to another force out there. And when Brown was caught trying to steal third, the game was over.

Bryant 9, Ocean Springs, Miss. 6

Bryant built a 9-0 lead after two innings then held off the Mississippi team for the victory. Ocean Springs scored two in the third and four in the fourth, but Kelley pitched a shutout top of the fifth to preserve the win.

Dunn, Hyder, Brown and Kelley limited Ocean Springs to just four hits, though they walked seven and Bryant committed three errors.

Ocean Springs also had three miscues. Bryant used six hits including two by Kelley.

Dunn pitched around a two-out single in the top of the first then Kelley led off the bottom of the inning with a double. Hill sacrificed him to third then he scored the first run on a wild pitch.

Drake was struck by a 2-1 pitch and, after Markham and Brown singled, an error allowed a run to score. Markham came in on a passed ball then, moments later, so did Brown, making it 4-0.

Ocean Springs could manage just a one-out single in the top of the second as Dunn fanned two more.

In turn, Dunn led off the bottom of the inning with a free pass. Kelley’s liner to short was misplayed then Hill singled to load the bases. Drake’s infield hit made it 5-0. Kelley scored on a passed ball as Markham walked.

After a pitching change, Hill scored on a passed ball and, four pitches later, Drake came home on a passed ball.

With one out, Markham scored on a wild pitch to make it 9-0.

In the top of the third, Ocean Springs got on the board. On in relief, Hyder issued three walks. A sacrifice fly made it 9-1 then an error allowed a second run to score before Bryant turned a doubleplay to end the inning.

Kelley’s one-out bunt single came to naught in the bottom of the third. In the top of the fourth, Ocean Springs whittled three more runs off the margin on three walks, a hit batsman and two singles. Kelley fielded a two-out bunt and threw to Brown at first to get the third out.

After Bryant was retired in order in the bottom of the fourth, Kelley struck out the side in the top of the fifth around a two-out error.

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