Big inning carries Fort Smith past Senior Sox

FORT SMITH — On the way to Omaha for a Classic event at Creighton Prep School in conjunction with the College World Series, the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team made a stop in Fort Smith to the play the Sportsman Athletics team on Tuesday night. With a six-run third, Fort Smith blew up a 2-1 game on the way to a 9-4 win.

It was just the third loss of the season in 18 games for the Sox, the defending State and Mid-South Regional champions, who finished 2-2 at the 2017 American Legion World Series. It snapped a nine-game winning streak.

Trailing 8-1 on Tuesday, Bryant whittled two runs off the lead but couldn’t get any closer than 8-3. Fort Smith added a run in the bottom of the sixth and the Sox got that one back but stranded runners at second and third as the contest concluded.

Scott Schmidt and Grayson Prince each had two hits for Bryant. Fort Smith’s Cody Smith was 3 for 3.

Brayden Lester started the game on the mound for the Sox but when the third began to get away, he was relieved by Logan Catton who got out of the frame and worked the fourth. Schmidt finished, pitching in the fifth and sixth.

Fort Smith grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Smith doubled in the second run after Cash Balentine had singled and Mac Moody doubled. Ryan Daggs’ groundout got the first run in.

Despite hits by Cade Drennan and Prince in the top of the second, the Sox couldn’t counter in the top of the second.

Lester pitched around a lead-off double by Evan Jones in the home second then the Sox got on the board in the third.

With one out, Catton was hit by a pitch and Schmidt ripped a double to right. Peyton Dillon singled in the run.

Drennan was hit by a pitch but Ryan Horn, the Fort Smith pitcher fanned the next two.

An error, a walk, a single and a double started the bottom of the third. Late in the uprising, Balentine and Moody cracked consecutive doubles.

In the top of the fourth, Prince walked and, with one out, Konnor Clontz singled. Catton was struck by a pitch to load the bases. Schmidt’s sacrifice fly made it 8-2 then Clontz scored on an error as the throw home from Moody in right got away.

Fort Smith managed just a one-out single against Catton in the fourth. In turn, the Sox got two aboard. Myers Buck reached on a one-out error and, with two down, Prince drew a walk.

Schmidt retired the Sportsman in order in the bottom of the fifth, but the Sox were unable to take advantage of a walk to Clontz, who advanced to second on a wild pitch then tried to score on Schmidt’s single to center. Balentine threw Clontz out at the plate.

A solo homer by Max Frazier made it 9-3 and, in the seventh, Buck singled, Matthew Sandidge walked, and Prince knocked in the final run with a single to left. When the ball was misplayed in the outfield, Sandidge went to third and Prince pulled into second.

Both, however, were stranded as Fort Smith reliever Blake Pschier retired the next two.

The Sox were without a few starters. Will McEntire, Jake Wright, Logan Chambers and Coby Greiner were taking part in the annual Xtra Innings showcase in Jonesboro. They’ll rejoin the team in Omaha.

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