SPANISH FORT, Ala. — There’s nothing like being pitted against the host team when you get to a Regional Tournament nearly 500 miles away from home.
But that was the challenge presented to the Bryant Athletic Association All-Stars, champions of the South Arkansas 8U State Tournament, when they got to the Cal Ripken 8-year-old Regional Tournament for pool play starting Thursday, July 13. Along with East Central, Miss., and Westside Baton Rouge, La., Bryant was a pair of Pool F, which included Spanish Fort, Miss.
Turned out Bryant gave the local team all they could handle only to suffer a 4-1 loss on Friday after being edged out by East Central, 5-4, to open the tournament on Thursday. Following the loss on Friday, however, Bryant’s Stars earned an 8-0 win over the Louisiana team, from Madisonville.
But when bracket play began on Saturday, there was Spanish Fort for Bryant to take on again in the first round. In a barn-burner, the hosts escaped with a 10-7 win, ending Bryant’s stay at the tourney.
The Bryant 8s, coached by Greg Riggs, includes Cannon Chalmers, Carson Dozier, Gunner Frazier, Lynden Johnson, Asher King, Colten Lucas, Hunter Markham, Paxton Pringle, Max Rauth, Jaxon Riggs, Drew Tate-Lee and Jackson Trusty.
Spanish Fort, Miss., 10, Bryant 7
In a seesaw battle, Bryant rallied to tie Spanish Fort, 7-7, going into the bottom of the fifth. But the Alabama team scored three times then held Bryant in the top of the sixth to secure the victory.
Bryant made a bid to score in the seventh with hits by Frazier, Johnson and Chalmers but could not dent the plate.
They had opened the game by taking a 3-0 lead.Riggs led off with a single and Markham doubled. Trusty delivered a run with a sacrifice fly then Tate-Lee singled in Markham.
The inning continued with Dozier beating out an infield hit. Frazier grounded into a force at second as Tate-Lee advanced to third. He scored when Johnson lined a single to left.
It stayed 3-0 until Spanish Fort put together a six-run second, scoring the maximum limit of runs in an inning.
Bryant rallied to tie it 6-6 in the top of the third. Riggs singled and, with one out, stole second and scored on a base hit by Trusty. After Tate-Lee beat out an infield knock, Frazier came through with two outs. His drive to right chased home both runners as he legged out a triple.
But he was stranded as the Alabama team got the third out.
A home run to center to open the bottom of the third put Spanish Fort back on top. They threatened to get more but Bryant’s defense stepped up ending the inning by picking off the runner at second.
Bryant tied it in the fifth with Riggs getting things going again. He singled to right with one out. After two were retired, Trusty beat out an infield hit and Tate-Lee doubled on a liner to left to get Riggs home.
Unfortunately, the hit Bryant needed to gain the lead just didn’t come again.
Bryant 8, Madisonville, La. 0
The Bryant defense shined in their victory and it was crucial much of the game. The All-Stars took a 2-0 lead in the first and it stayed that way until they added a run in the fourth. Finally, a five-run fifth took all the doubt out of the outcome.
The initial uprising started with singles from Riggs and Markham. With runners at the corners, Markham was thrown out trying to steal second but Riggs scored.
Trusty kept the inning going with a double to left. Tate-Lee singled then Trusty stole home to make it 2-0 before Dozier beat out an infield hit.
After a pair of singles in the first, Madsonville could only muster a one-out single in the second then was retired 1-2-3 in the third.
Bryant’s run in the fourth was the result of Dozier’s double, a groundout by Frazier to get him to third and a sacrifice fly by Johnson.
The Louisiana team opened the home fourth with a single but Bryant got a force at second on a fielder’s choice. Another single put runners at first and second but a pop to short and another caught by the pitcher ended the threat.
Chalmers beat out an infield hit in the top of the fifth. With one out, Rauth beat out a bunt. King singled in a run and, with two away, Markham singled in Rauth. Trusty doubled to make it 6-0. Tate-Lee’s single brought in Markham and Dozier’s base hit plated Trusty to cap off the onslaught.
Spanish Fort, Ala., 4, Bryant 1
In the first game on Friday, it was the defense of Spanish Fort that was decisive as Bryant was kept from scoring until the top of the sixth. By then, the Alabama team had scored twice in the second and twice in the fourth to eke out a 4-0 lead. Bryant’s defense proofed to be stingy too.
Bryant didn’t have a batter get on base until Chalmers singled with two out in the top of the third. Though they were hitting the ball hard, it always seemed to be right at a defender. On either side of Chalmers’ hits were line outs.
Bryant turned a doubleplay to erase a lead-off single in the bottom of the third.
In the top of the fourth, Riggs singled with two away and stole second but was stranded.
After Spanish Fort made it 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Tate-Lee beat out a single in the top of the fifth but Lucas’ bid for a hit was fielded and turned into a force at second. Frazier followed with another line drive but it was caught at first.
Bryant’s sixth began with Dozier lining a single to left. Johnson cracked a double to center and, with one out, Pringle hit a grounder to third. Spanish Fort’s third baseman chose to make sure Dozier didn’t score so Pringle was safe at first on the fielder’s choice.
That brought up Rauth who came through with an infield hit that got Dozier home. But a foul out and a grounder into a force at the plate ended the game.
East Central, Miss., 5, Bryant 4
In a heartbreaker, Bryant led most of the game after scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. East Central managed to tie it with two in the third and one in the fifth but Bryant scored again in the bottom of the fifth to take a 4-3 lead.
East Central rallied for two runs in the top of the sixth.
In the bottom of the inning, King singled to right but was forced at second on Riggs’ grounder to short. Markham sacrificed to get Riggs to second and Trusty beat out an infield hit to get Riggs to third with the potential tying run. But a pop out to short ended the game.
Bryant’s opening salvo began with a one-out single by Markham and a line drive to left by Trusty. East Central threw the ball around allowing Markham to score and Trusty to reach third.
With two away, Tate-Lee singled in Trusty and Frazier doubled to left to make it 3-0.
East Central trimmed two runs off the lead in the third but stranded the potential tying run at second. Neither team could get much going in the fourth.
East Central used a double, a stolen base and a single to tie it in the top of the fifth. In the home half, Chalmers and Lucas cracked consecutive doubles to put Bryant back on top. Lucas tried to get to third on his double but was thrown out.
In turn, the Mississippi team tied it with a pair of doubles and took the lead on a groundout.