NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Black Sox Junior American Legion team bounced back from a tough loss in pool play on Saturday to earn a dramatic 5-4 win over Stix 16U in bracket play on Sunday. That catapulted them into the championship game of the Mid American Tournament at Lakewood Park. But the Sox fell short of capturing the title as Perfect Timing pinned a 6-1 loss on them to take the crown.
The Junior Sox are now 8-3 on the season going into a home doubleheader against Russellville on Tuesday.
Bryant 5, Stix 16U 4
With the score tied 4-4 going into the seventh inning, Konnor Clontz drew a one-out walk to start the top of the inning. On consecutive wild pitches, Clontz hustled to third. Peyton Dillon then came through with a sacrifice fly to center to bring him home, snapping the tie.
Will McEntire followed with a single but was stranded.
In the bottom of the seventh, Cade Drennan, who relieved Dillon on the mound in the fifth, retired the first two batters. But a pair of singles followed to give Stix 16U hope. In turn, however, Drennan induced a grounder to Logan Catton at second resulting in the final out.
The Sox, who were held to just three hits but benefitted from seven walks, three errors and a hit batsman, put together a four-run fourth that overcame a 3-0 deficit.
The uprising started after McEntire was hit by a pitch but Stix turned a doubleplay. Drennan singled then Ryan Lessenberry waited out a four-pitch walk. With Christian Motes in as a courtesy runner for Lessenberry, Brayden Lester waited out another walk to load the bases for Zion Collins. On a 2-1 pitch, Collins shot a grounder at the shortstop who booted the ball. Drennan scored to make it 3-1. A walk to Catton forced in the second run and, after the second pitching change of the inning, Clontz got a blooper to fall in shallow left for a single that brought both Lester and Collins, giving the Sox a 4-3 edge.
In the bottom of the inning, Stix put together a pair of singles and, with two out, a Bryant error allowed the run to score before Dillon ended the inning with a strikeout, strading runners at second and third.
Neither team mustered a base-runner in the fifth. In the sixth, Lessenberry reached on an error but a doubleplay ended the inning.
Likewise when Drennan issued a walk to start the home sixth, the Sox turned a doubleplay before he closed out the frame with a strikeout.
That set up the dramatic seventh.
Perfect Timing 6, Bryant 1
After Perfect Timing grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Sox tied it in the home half. Catton’s fly to right was dropped then Clontz smacked the first of his two hits in the game. Dillon grounded into a doubleplay as Catton took third. McEntire came through in the clutch with an RBI single.
Lester, who started on the mound for the Sox worked a 1-2-3 second and the Sox, in turn, made a bid to take the lead. With one out, Jacob Coppock drew a walk. With two down, Collins was awarded first base on catcher’s interference. A wild pitch put runners at second and third but they were stranded as Perfect Timing got the final out.
A hit batsman and a walk started the top of the third. Drennan, the Bryant catcher, threw the lead runner out as he tried to steal third for the second out of the inning. Another hit batsman followed then a double drove in two runs to make it 3-1.
After Perfect Timing scored two more in the top of the fourth, the Sox put two aboard in the bottom of the inning. Drennan reached on a third-strike wild pitch then Coppock rapped a single to right. But a strikeout and a groundout followed to keep it 5-1.
Dillon singled in the fifth but was left aboard. In the sixth, Perfect Timing tacked on another run and the Sox were unable to take advantage of a lead-off walk to Jarod Yarborough.
Motes became the Sox’ third pitcher in the seventh and threw a scoreless inning. In the home half, Clontz singled with two down only to be forced at second on a grounder to short, ending the game.