SHERIDAN — After building a 7-3 lead, the Bryant Black Sox were clinging to a 7-6 edge going into the top of the seventh. Kyle Kling singled to open the inning then C.J. Wallace got a bunt down that he beat out for a hit.
Hot Springs Village made a bid to get out of the inning but, with two away, Diego Vargas, who was 4 for 4 in the game, came through with an RBI single that provided some cushion.
It proved crucial when Hot Springs Village rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning. With runners at second and third with one out, HSV’s Brian Fields lifted a fly to Kaleb Kling in left field. The lead runner, Stephen Turner tagged and tried to score as Kling made the catch but the throw to the plate nailed him to end the game in dramatic fashion.
The Black Sox prevailed 8-7 in the first round of the 2016 AA American Legion State Tournament.
The Sox advance to play this morning at 10 a.m., against Magnet Cove’s Black Cats in a winners’ bracket game. Hot Springs Village faces elimination in a 5:30 p.m., contest against either Sheridan or Monticello.
On Friday, Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. With two down, Vargas and Jacob Coppock each singled. An error allowed Vargas to score.
Hot Springs Village countered with three in the home half, taking advantage of four Bryant errors. Walker Glisson and Cody Moody each had hits.
The Sox regained the upper hand in the top of the second. Consecutive singles by Cade Dupree, Kaleb Kling and Kyle Kling got a run in. Wallace bunted but Hot Springs Village managed to get a force at third.
A walk to Jeffrey Hastings loaded the bases then Myers Buck and Vargas each cracked RBI singles to make it 4-3.
Hastings, who started on the mound for Bryant, gained his footing after the error-plagued first. He fanned two on the way to a 1-2-3 second and got another on strikes as he retired the side in order in the third.
The Sox improved their grip on the lead with three in the top of the fourth. With one down, Buck reached on an error and Vargas singled. Base hits by Coppock and Drew Brown plated runs then, after a pitching change, Dupree grounded into a force at second as a Noah Record, the courtesy runner for Coppock, the catcher, came in to make it 7-3.
Hot Springs Village whittled a run off the lead in the fourth on hits by Dillon Anderson, Chase Peterson and J.J. Kirkpatrick. The Villagers tried to steal a run but the Sox executed the relay from Coppock to Vargas and back to Coppock in time to get the out that ended the inning.
Wallace doubled and stole third with one out in the top of the fifth but was stranded.
In the home half, Hot Springs Village trimmed another run off the lead. Coppock threw out two would-be base-stealers in the inning to take the starch out of the Villagers rally.
The game went to the sixth with Bryant up 7-5. Vargas singled and Dupree drew a two-out walk in the top of the inning. Vargas stole third but a foul to the catcher ended the threat.
Again, Hot Springs Village picked up a run in response. Anderson singled with one out then so did Peterson. But when Anderson tried to steal third, Coppock gunned him down for the second out. Peterson, however, got to second on the play then swiped third before Kilpatrick drilled an RBI double to make it 7-6.
Though Kilpatrick represented the tying run, Hastings got Adam Saveall to bounce to Kyle Kling at third to end the inning.
That set up the dramatic seventh inning as Bryant prevailed to advance.