Black Sox hang on for 3-1 win in Junior Zone tourney opener

Peyton Dillon and Will McEntire combined on a four-hitter and the Bryant Black Sox produced just enough offense for a 3-1 win over Benton Sport Shop in the first round of the Zone 4 Junior American Legion tournament at Bryant High School on Saturday.

In other first-round games, Hot Springs Lakeside run-rule Benton Everett Infiniti, 12-2, and Acme Brick’s Black Cats of Magnet Cove edged Sheridan Peoples Bank, 4-2.

On Sunday, the Sox will take on Acme Brick at 5 p.m. Benton Sports Shop takes on Sheridan Peoples Bank at 7:30. The early game pits Lakeside against Sheridan Taylor & Lunsford at 2:30.

Dillon was perfect through the first three innings retiring nine in a row before Benton’s Austin Hillis got a hump-backed liner to fall in just in front of the diving Bryant right fielder Cade Drennan.

His shutout lasted through 5 1/3 innings before he issued a pair of walks and a single that produced Benton’s lone run. McEntire relieved and retired the next two batters to force Sport Shop to stand runners at second and third.

Down 3-1, Benton rallied with the bottom of its batting order. Cole Nicholes worked a lead-off walk then, on an 0-2 pitch, Gary Storment’s swinging bunt went for a hit. Jarred Patrick sacrificed the runners to second and third so Benton had the potential tying runs in scoring position with the top of the order coming up and just one out.

But McEntire struck out Austin Hillis then got Hayden Simpson to tap back to the mound to end the game, earning a save.

Dillon allowed just three hits, walked three, hit a batter and struck out seven.

Benton’s duo of Jacob Levart and Patrick pitched well too.

Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With one out, Coby Greiner singled up the middle. Jake Wright followed with a grounder to short. But his throw to second was mishandled and both runners were safe.

A balk moved them into scoring position at second and third. Christian Harp was struck by a Levart pitch to fill the sacks for Dillon who picked up an RBI with a grounder to short.

The Benton started then worked around a lead-off single and a stolen base by Brayden Lester in the second. In the third, the Sox loaded the bases with one out on singles by Wright and Harp and a walk to Dillon. But Levart recorded a strikeout and induced a grounder to first to escape the threat.

In the fourth, Dillon had his first trouble on the mound. Hillis got Benton’s first hit with a single to right that fell in just in front of Cade Drennan, who made a diving try. Hayden Simpson followed with an infield hit but the Sox turned a doubleplay.

Still, Hillis got to third and Levart was hit by a pitch. Rylan Fogelman made a bid for an RBI hit but Harp made a nice diving stop on his grounder and got the out to end the inning.

In the home half, Ryan Lessenberry shot a single up the middle and Zion Collins came on as a courtesy runner. Konnor Clontz sacrificed him to second then Logan Catton hit a drive to right that was misplayed.

That put runners at first and third for Greiner who got a bunt down to get Collins home, making it 2-0. The Sox might’ve added on but, Storment, the Benton catcher, made an excellent play to get to Wright’s foul pop, ending the inning.

Neither team mustered much in the fifth before Dillon had his trouble in the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, the Sox added a big insurance run when Logan Catton led off with a gapper in left-center for a double. Greiner singled him to third and Levart, up to 97 pitches, gave way to Patrick.

Greiner stole second but both runners held as Wright’s hard grounder ricocheted off the pitcher’s glove to Nicholes at second who got the out at first as Catton scored.

When McEntire was hit by a pitch with two down, Bryant had runners at the corners. Drennan made a bid for a hit but his liner was caught by Levart at short.

That set up the dramatic bottom of the seventh.

JUNIOR AMERICAN LEGION DISTRICT TOURNAMENT

At Bryant High School Field

Saturday, July 8

Game 1 — Hot Springs Lakeside 12, Benton Everett Infiniti 2

Game 2 — Acme Brick (Magnet Cove) 4, Sheridan Peoples Bank 2

Game 3 — Bryant Black Sox 3, Benton Sports Shop 1

Sunday, July 9

Game 4 — Sheridan Taylor & Lunsford vs. Hot Springs Lakeside, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5 — Acme Brick Black Cats (Magnet Cove) vs. Bryant Black Sox, 5 p.m.

Game 6 — Sheridan Peoples Bank vs. Benton Sports Shop, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 10

Game 7 — Game 5 loser vs. game 1 loser, 2:30 p.m.

Game 8 — Game 4 loser vs. game 6 winner, 5 p.m.

Game 9 — Game 4 winner vs. game 5 winner, 7:30 p.m. (winners’ bracket final)

Tuesday, July 11

Game 10 — Game 8 winner vs. game 7 winner, 5 p.m.

Game 11 — Game 9 loser vs. game 10 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 12

Championship round

Game 12 — Game 9 winner vs. game 11 winner, 6 p.m.

Game 13 — if needed, 30 minutes after game 12



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