OMAHA — The Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team went 4-1 to win their pool and[more] advance to the championship bracket at the annual 19U Battle of Omaha, with their lone loss an 8-7 nine-inning contest against Papillion, Neb., which was hosting the pool.
The Sox, now 17-2-1 on the season, capped off pool play with an 8-7 win over the Swing Away Gamers of Fargo, N.D. on Saturday.
They were open bracket play today on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., against the Ohio Panthers, winners of the pool played at Omaha Bryan High School.
In the win, Bryant held off a rally in the top of the seventh as the Fargo team cut an 8-4 lead to 8-7. Tryce Schalchlin and Tyler Nelson shut down the rally, making a winner of starter Nate Rutherford, who allowed just two runs over the first five innings while his teammates built a 5-2 lead.
The Sox took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Trevor Ezell and Ozzie Hurt each beat out bunt singles and, after moving up on a groundout by Marcus Wilson, Hayden Lessenberry singled in Ezell and Nelson came through with a sacrifice fly.
After the Gamers tied it in the top of the second on four straight two-out hits, Bryant took the lead for good in the home second. Chase Tucker singled, stole second and scored on a base-hit up the middle by Korey Thompson with one out.
Rutherford allowed a walk and a single to start the top of the third but he induced a pop to first then a liner to Thompson at second that resulted in a doubleplay as Thompson threw to Ezell as the lead runner wandered too far off the bag.
The Sox tacked on a pair of runs in the third. Wilson led off with a double to left and, with one out, Nelson drew a walk. Hayden Daniel’s single plated Wilson and Cody Gogus came through with a sacrifice fly.
Rutherford pitched around a lead-off single in the fourth and a pair of two-out hits in the fifth to keep it 5-2. In the sixth, however, a lead-off single and a pair of walks loaded the bases. Fargo got a run on a passed ball and another on a groundout to cut it to 5-4.
But Bryant responded in the bottom of the inning, scoring three key runs. Thompson’s second hit start the uprising. With one out, Hurt singled to right. Wilson beat out a bunt hit as Thompson scored then Lessenberry drilled a two-run single to left-center.
In the seventh, Fargo took advantage of a pair of errors around a double to produce a run. A passed ball make it 8-7 and, after Schalchlin relieved, another run scored on a grounder to second. A walk put the potential tying run on base but the right-hander induced a grounder to short that resulted in a force at second. The relay to first, however, was too late as the Gamers stayed alive. But Nelson came in at that point and got the final out.
The game against Papillion was tight early. The Sox were shut out over the first four innings. Papillion scored an unearned run in the first against starter Harrison Dale, then built on the advantage with a three-run fourth, loading the bases with two out before a three-run triple was struck. Dale kept the runner at third with a strikeout to end the inning.
The Black Sox broke through with four runs in the fifth to tie it. Chase Tucker and Zach Graddy singled, Austin Caldwell walked and Trevor Ezell drilled a triple down the right-field line to clear the bags. Hurt singled him in to tie it.
Dale set down Papillion in order in the bottom of the inning and the Sox came up with two more runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead. Singles from Nelson and Tucker set up the inning. Drew Tipton sacrificed them to second and third and Graddy cracked a single up the middle to bring them around.
Dale retired the first batter of the bottom of the inning then ran into trouble with a pair of walks and, after a double steal, an error on a fielder’s choice allowed two runs to score, tying the game.
Hayden Daniel relieved at that point and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Bryant regained the lead in the top of the seventh when Ezell singled, took second on Hurt’s sacrifice, third on a groundout by Wilson then scored on a base hit by Lessenberry.
Papillion managed a one-out single after Daniel had struck out his third batter in a row to start the home seventh. With two down, he was a strike away from ending it when a single to left kept the inning going. Another base hit drove in the run. The trail runner tried to score as well to win the game but the relay from Caldwell in right to Hurt at short to Graddy at the plate, cut him down to save the game for the moment, sending it to extra innings.
In the eighth, the Sox only managed a two-out walk to Thompson. In turn, Daniel retired the side in order, picking up another strikeout.
The Sox made a bid to score in the ninth. They got a bad break when, after Wilson lashed a one-out single, Lessenberry sent a drive to left-center that bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double, forcing Wilson to hold at third.
Papillion retired the next two batters to keep it 7-7 going into the bottom of the ninth.
With Justin Emmerling taking over on the mound for the Sox a pair of walks opened the inning but Emmerling picked off the runner at second. An error put runners at second and third and an intentional walk was issued to load the bases and set up a force at each station. But a single to center drove in the game-winner.