Black Sox rally twice to advance to Battle semifinals

OMAHA, Neb. — With a dramatic rally in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and another[more] in the bottom of the eighth to win, the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team advanced to the semifinals of the 19U Battle of Omaha on Sunday. The Sox edged Omaha Burke, 7-6, in the rain-delayed tournament with Korey Thompson coming through with the bases loaded, beating out an infield hit. Hayden Daniel scored from third. And when the first baseman took the late throw and didn’t look to Drew Tipton who was rounding third, Tipton sprinted home with the game-winner.

The Sox were set to play at 10:30 a.m., but rain not only prevented the game but wound up sending three of the eight teams that had qualified for the championship bracket home. The teams were reseeded and the Sox opened against Burke.

They were set to play this morning at 8:30 against Lincoln, Neb., Pius in one semifinal. The other semifinal will pit the Colorado Slammers and the Ohio Panthers. The championship game is set for 1 p.m.

In Sunday’s seesaw battle, Burke came up with a three-run sixth to overcome Bryant’s 4-2 lead. Down to their last out in the bottom of the seventh, the Sox got three straight singles. Ozzie Hurt and Marcus Wilson set the table and, on a 3-2 pitch, Hayden Lessenberry drove in the tying run.

But a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth snapped the tie as Burke moved back ahead. Tryce Schalchlin, who opened the inning with a strikeout, came back after the four-bagger to strike out the Burke clean-up hitter and get the final out of the frame on a groundout.

Daniel led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to center and Tipton sliced one to right-center for a double. With first base open, Burke issued an intentional walk to Cody Gogus to set up a force at any base before Thompson, on an 0-2 pitch, shot one into the hole at short that was flagged down. He hustled to beat out the hit leading to Tipton’s aggressive dash to the plate to win it.

Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the first when Ezell walked, advanced on a groundout by Hurt and a wild pitch before Wilson cracked a single up the middle for the RBI.

Tyler Nelson, the Sox starter blanked Burke in the first two innings and the Sox made it 2-0 with another run in the home second. Tipton doubled and scored on a single by Gogus after two were retired.

Burke rallied for a pair of runs to tie it in the top of the third but, after Nelson worked a 1-2-3 fourth, the Sox regained the lead. Chase Tucker walked and Daniel sacrificed him to second then Tipton lashed the second of his three doubles to drive in the go-ahead run. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Gogus’ sacrifice fly.

The 4-2 lead held until Burke’s rally in the sixth produced the 5-4 lead. The Sox went down in order in the bottom of the inning but then Nelson battled back to work a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, setting up the drama.

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