Photos courtesy of Lendsi Martin
ARKADELPHIA — The Bryant All-Stars battled all the way back to the championship round including a 9-6 win over host Arkadelphia (Clark County) in the losers bracket final. But, after ousting three teams in a row, they absorbed a 3-1 loss to Phenix City, Ala., for the Babe Ruth 14-and-under Southwest Regional Tournament title on Sunday.
The Bryant team, managed by Jason Greiner with assistance from Jeremy Morrow and Jon Parker, includes Gavin Burton, Tucker Dunn, Caleb Greiner, Drew Hatman, Hunter Holt, Connor Martin, Colby Morrow, Calvin Myles, Kyler Pabon, J.T. Parker and Cade Parker.
Phenix City 3, Bryant 1
The Alabama team scored a run in the top of the fourth to snap a 1-1 tie then tacked on an insurance tally in the fifth, while holding Bryant to just two hits, both by J.T. Parker, and the one-unearned run to capture the championship.
Likewise, Phenix City was held to two hits by Martin and Holt.
The first run for Phenix City came in the top of the first. A walk and a sacrifice bunt that allowed the runner to go all the way to third was followed by an RBI groundout.
Despite a one-out double by J.T. Parker and a hit batsman, Bryant did not counter in the bottom of the first. But, after Martin pitched around a one-out walk in the second, Bryant tied it.
With one out, Hatman walked and Cade Parker was hit by a pitch. They moved to second and third on a groundout by Myles then a passed ball allowed Hatman to score the tying run.
In the bottom of the third, Holt drew a walk and J.T. Parker grounded into a force at second. Martin’s fly to left was misplayed and Bryant had two runners aboard. Martin was forced at second on Burton’s grounder to short then, with runners at first and third, Greiner hit a line drive that was caught by the first baseman to end the threat.
On a single, a walk, a force play, and an error, Phenix City made it 2-1 in the top of the fourth. After Bryant was retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, a hit batsman started the Alabama fifth. Bryant got a force at second then a pop to shallow right just fell in despite a diving attempt at a catch by Hatman.
A walk loaded the bases and the third Phenix City run scored when a batter was hit by a pitch, forcing in the run.
In the bottom of the fifth, Holt reached on an error with two away then J.T. Parker walked but both were stranded. Both teams were retired in order in the sixth and the seventh as Phenix City held on for the victory, finishing the tournament unbeaten.
Bryant 9, Clark County 6
Early on Sunday, Bryant scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth to grab an 8-2 lead then held off a Clark County rally in the sixth to gain the championship berth.
Burton had two hits, both doubles, and drove in five runs to lead the offense, which benefited from six walks and three Clark County errors. J.T. Parker and Cade Parker had doubles as well.
Greiner pitched five innings and allowed two runs, one unearned, on two hits. Burton struggled in the sixth, but Holt got out of the inning with the lead intact and closed out the victory with a scoreless seventh.
Clark County, which lost in the winners bracket final to Phenix City, took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a pair of walks around a single. A force out allowed the first run then an error allowed the second.
Bryant got on the board in the bottom of the first. Holt reached on an error then so did J.T. Parker. With runners at the corners, Martin hit a grounder to third. The throw home nabbed Holt. But Parker scored on Burton’s grounder to second.
Greiner pitched around a lead-off walk in the top of the second. Bryant was unable to take advantage of Cade Parker’s double and walks to Myles and Dunn in the home half.
Clark County loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third but a grounder back to the mound resulted in a force at the plate. A fly to J.T. Parker in center ended the inning with the score still 2-1.
Bryant took the lead in the bottom of the third. Martin drew a one-out walk then scored all the way from first on Burton’s double to right. With the score tied, Greiner got a sacrifice bunt down and reached first when the ball was misplayed. He and Burton then worked a double steal to get the go-ahead run home.
Bryant added on in the bottom of the fourth. A one-out error allowed Myles to reach base. Another miscue on a grounder by Dunn put two aboard. With two down, J.T. Parker walked to load the bases and Martin drew a free pass to force in a run.
Burton cracked a double that cleared the bases, making it 7-2. Greiner singled him home to make it a six-run lead.
On the mound, Greiner hit a batter to start the fifth and, with one out, issued a walk but a pair of groundballs resulted in outs.
It stayed 7-2 until Clark County came to bat in the top of the sixth. The first two batters were retired but then a walk and five singles made it 8-6.
Holt came on to pitch and surrendered a single that had the bases loaded. But he got the final out on a grounder back to the box.
For good measure, Bryant added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth when Holt drew a one-out walk and J.T. Parker doubled him home.
Clark County tried to mount a rally in the top of the seventh. A pair of one-out singles got the uprising started. A walk filled the bases.
But a fly out to center and a groundout to Morrow at first forced Clark County to strand three, finishing off the victory.