COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Tyler Nelson laced a bases-loaded single to left with two out in the bottom of[more] the 11th inning to give the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team a walk-off win over Vero Beach, Fla., as bracket play got underway at the 2012 Independence Day Classic on Saturday.
The Sox, who improved to 20-2 on the season, were scheduled to play in the quarterfinals later in the evening against Daluth, Ala.
It was the third come-from-behind win for Bryant at the Classic. They’d rallied late to beat teams from Columbiana, Ala., and Shelbyville, Tenn., on Friday. Against Vero Beach, the Sox led 3-0 through four innings but the Florida team cut it to 3-2 in the fifth then struck for five in the sixth to take a 7-3 lead.
With six outs left, Bryant pushed four runs home in the sixth to tie it.
For the second time this season, right-hander Tryce Schalchlin turned in an exceptional performance in extra innings. He came in during the five-run sixth and gave up a couple of runs before getting out of it. From then on, however, he allowed just three hits over the next five innings and earned the win.
Earlier in the season, Schalchlin had pitched seven shutout innings of relief and earned a win over Fort Smith Kerwins in extra frames.
Nelson’s was just the last big hit in the bottom of the 11th. Ozzie Hurt started the rally with a liner to center for a single. Hunter Mayall’s grounder to short was booted but Vero Beach got a force at third when Tyler Brown tried to sacrifice. And when Jordan Taylor’s liner carried out to center for the second out, the 12th inning looked mighty likely.
But Marcus Wilson lined a single to left to load the bases for Nelson, who ripped a 2-1 pitch to left for the game-winner.
Josh Pultro led the Sox with two hits in the game. Landon Pickett blasted his seventh homer of the season and drove in three runs. Hayden Daniel knocked in three as well.
Jay Schulte and James Tomhey led Vero Beach with three hits as the Florida team out-hit Bryant 13-9. But Tomhey and his brother Matt, pitching for Vero Beach combined to walk seven and hit two, while Rutherford and Schalchlin combined to issued just two free passes.
One of those came in the top of the first inning and Rutherford pitched around it. The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning when Mayall pulled a double to right and, after Brown’s grounder got him to third and Taylor walked, Pickett came through with a sacrifice fly.
Matt Tomhey and Rutherford dueled over the next two innings and, after the Bryant hurler pitched a 1-2-3 fourth, Pickett blasted his two-run shot to center. Taylor had led off the home fourth with a double ahead of the blast.
Reece Green’s two-out two-run double broke up Rutherford’s shutout in the fifth and, after the Sox were retired in order, Schulte singled to open the sixth and Eric Enrico beat out a bunt for a hit. Matt Tomhey sacrificed and John Curso singled in a run. Alex Garcia doubled to drive in Enrico then Schalchlin came on to relieve.
A grounder to short by Ronny Herndon resulted in a force out but another run scored as Herndon beat the relay to first that would’ve resulted in an inning-ending double play. James Tomhey came up next and, on a 2-1 pitch, slugged a two-run homer to right to make it 7-3.
Matt Tomhey retired the first two Sox in the bottom of the inning but then a walk to Pickett opened the door to Bryant’s tying rally. Nelson was hit by a pitch and Pultro singled to load the bases. Hayden Lessenberry drew an RBI walk, bringing Daniel to the plate. On an 0-1 pitch, the hot-hitting outfielder drilled a double that cleared the bases and evened the score.
Schalchlin pitched around a one-out single in the seventh and, in the eighth, overcame an error and a single to start the inning. He made a nice play on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Garcia, getting the force at third. Herndon fanned and James Tomhey flew out to Mayall in left.
Matt Tomhey worked an easy seventh then pitched around a two-out walk to Nelson in the eighth. Vero Beach managed only a two-out single in the ninth. In turn, the Sox put runners on second and third with two down. Hurt walked and Mayall reached on an error. Hurt went to third on the play and Mayall stole second but they were stranded.
Garcia doubled with two out in the 10th but got no further when Herndon popped to Hurt at second. The Sox then made a bid to win it in the bottom of the 10th when Pickett was hit by a pitch, Nelson sacrificed him to second and Pultro was issued an intentional walk. Lessenberry drew another pass to load the bases with Daniel coming up. This time, James Tomhey got him to fly to left to end the threat.
Schalchlin retired the side in order in the top of the 11th, setting the stage for the Bryant rally.