By Madison McEntire
The Bryant 9-year-old All-Stars rallied late to tie the score but then fell 4-3 to rival Benton in the winner’s bracket finals of the 2010 Cal Ripken State tournament at Jacksonville’s Excell Park on Tuesday, July 13. They next take on Hamburg on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. with the winner to face Benton at 6:30 in the tournament finals. Should Benton lose, the final game will be played at 8:30 p.m.
The Bryant team members are Logan Chambers, Logan Grant, Nathan McFarland, Ryan Lessenberry, Cade Dupree, Coby Greiner, Logan Catton, Jake Cowell, Will McEntire, Sawyer Holt, Garett Nguyen, Hunter Mullings, and Chandler Taylor. The manager is Michael Catton and the assistant coaches are Phillip Dupree and Madison McEntire.[more]
Starting pitcher Chambers struck out three in the top of the first, only giving up a ground ball single off the third base bag to the second batter. Bryant threatened in their half of the inning but did not score. Chambers hit a slow roller to the shortstop with one out and beat it out. McFarland dumped a single into left to move him to second. Dupree’s grounder to second move them up a base before McEntire struck out to end the inning.
Chambers dominated the Benton hitters again in the second by striking out the side on just 14 pitches. Bryant had a golden opportunity to jump out in front in their half of the inning but did not score. Grant led off with a walk. Greiner dropped down a sacrifice bunt and reached safely on a throwing error by the pitcher, with Grant scooting all the way to third. Cowell walked on five pitches to load the bases. But they left the bases loaded when Nguyen, batting for Lessenberry, struck out, Catton lined to the pitcher, and Chambers grounded to second.
In the third, Chamber quickly retired the first two on grounders, but then Benton rallied for three runs. Their leadoff batter beat out a slow grounder to shortstop and the next batter reached when Grant’s throw pulled McFarland off the bag at first. The next batter tripled on a line drive to right and both runners scored, although Lessenberry appeared to get the second runner with a sweep tag on the relay throw from Greiner. The runner from third scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0. The next batter reached on a dropped throw at first but was thrown out at second to end the inning as McEntire backed up the play and threw to Greiner who applied the tag. Bryant went quietly in their half of the inning.
Leading off the fourth, Benton got a liner in the left-center field gap but the runner was cut down trying for second on a relay from Catton to Grant to Greiner. The next batter singled and, one out later, a walk put two runners on. But Chamber induced a grounder to McFarland at first to end the inning. Bryant again went quickly in their time at bat, getting just a one-out walk from Cowell.
McFarland took over for Chambers in the fifth and quickly got three outs, allowing just a ground ball single up the middle that was fielded by second baseman Greiner. Bryant batted around in the bottom of the fifth and knotted the game up at 3-3. The first two batters, Chambers and McFarland, walked. Benton then removed their starting pitcher and Dupree greeted the new hurler with a grounder to the shortstop who threw the ball away, allowing Chambers to score, McFarland to take third, and Dupree to get to second. Taylor pinch-ran for Dupree.
McEntire stepped into the batter’s box and hit a deep flyball to right field on the first pitch for a sacrifice fly that scored McFarland and advanced Taylor to third. Grant grounded back to the pitcher and Taylor scored on the throw to first to tie the score. Bryant then loaded the bases with a single by Greiner and walks to Cowell and Lessenberry, but they failed to take the lead when Catton grounded back to the mound to end the inning.
The game moved to the last inning and Benton shook off Bryant’s momentum from the previous inning by scoring quickly. The first batter singled on a liner to left-center and the next one walked. The next batter doubled on a line drive to right field to score the runner from second but the trail runner was gunned down at the plate on the relay from McEntire to Greiner to Lessenberry. Following a walk and a strikeout, Benton left two runners on base when their leadoff batter flew out to McEntire in right field.
Bryant looked to rally and steal a victory in the bottom of the sixth. Chambers led off by grounding out to second but then McFarland and Dupree each reached base by getting hit by a pitch to put the tying run in scoring position. However, McEntire and Grant both struck out looking and Benton celebrated a hard-fought 4-3 win.