Photos courtesy of Paul Dotson
CONWAY — The day after scoring 27 runs on 20 hits to dismiss Conway, the Bryant Black Sox pounded out 18 more safeties on the way to a 12-2 win over the Blytheville Casons as they advanced to the third round of the Senior American Legion State Tournament on Saturday.
They were set for a rematch of the 2015 championship game against the Fort Smith Sportsmen on Sunday, two wins away from earning their third consecutive trip to the MidSouth Regionals.
Jordan Gentry went 4 for 5 with three runs batted in and Austin Kelly cracked three hits. Garrett Misenheimer, Jake East, Seth Tucker and Aaron Orender each added two hits. Joey Cates drove in two.
Lefty Beaux Bonvillain earned the victory on the mound, working five shutout innings. His teammates had built an 8-0 lead by then. Blytheville rallied for two runs in the sixth before Boston Heil took over as the third Sox pitcher, closing out the inning and the rest of the game.
With a run in the bottom of the sixth and three in the home half of the eight, Bryant earned a run-rule win, saving an inning for the pitching staff.
Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Misenheimer blooped a two-out single to right. Kelly shot a single off the third baseman’s glove then Gentry drove in the run with his first hit.
Bonvillain, who pitched around a two-out single in the first, surrendered a lead-off single to Zack Gray in the second then proceeded to strike out the side.
Tucker doubled to start Bryant’s second. Aaron Orender lined a single to left then Cates got the squeeze bunt down to make it 2-0.
The Sox struck again after two were out in the home third. Kelly beat out an infield hit and Gentry looped a single to center. With runners at first and third, Gentry stole second and drew a throw allowing Kelly to dash home. The late throw to the plate allowed Gentry to hustle to third. Moments later, East swatted a single to make it 4-0.
East went first to third on a knock from Tucker and when Tucker left early from first and stayed in a rundown, East scampered home for the fifth run.
Blytheville was quiet in the fourth and the Sox tacked on. Orender singled, advanced on a passed ball and sprinted hom on a double to right by Cates. A throwing error allowed Cates to take third. He trotted home on Logan Allen’s double past the third-base bag. Misenheimer’s single got Allen home, making it 8-0.
Bonvillain pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, getting the final out on a fly to Kelly in right. In the sixth, however, Tyler Sims singled with one out off reliever Hunter Oglesby and eventually scored on a two-out knock by Jamal Washington.
After singles by Will Camp and Scott filled the bases, a walk forced in a run and Heil came on to get the third out, stranding the bases loaded.
Dylan Hurt walked to start Bryant’s sixth-inning counterattack. Misenheimer reached on an error and, with two down, Gentry laced a single to left to make it 9-2.
The Sox’ game-ending outburst was ignited by Hurt’s single to right. With one out, Kelly lined a hit to center. Gentry drove an RBI single to left. A single by East loaded the bases for Tucker, who walked to pick up an RBI. And when Orender was plunked by a pitch, it brought in the final run, ending the game.