Bryant 11’s battle back to challenge Benton for State championship

LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant 11-year-old All-Stars advanced to the championship round of the State Tournament with a 19-3 romp over the host Junior Deputy All-Stars on Tuesday night. They will face the rival Benton All-Stars tonight at 6, hoping to avenge the 5-4 loss that sent them to the losers bracket. Bryant will need to win twice to take the title.

The Bryant 11’s include Landon Abernathy, Logan Allen, Drew Brown, Jake East, Jeffery Hastings, Dylan Hurt, Austin Kelley, Hayden Knowles, Garrett Misenheimer, Aaron Orender, Landon Smith and Diego Vargas. Jerry East is the manager with assistance from Rick Brown and Rusty Misenheimer.[more]

On Tuesday, Bryant appeared to be in for a tangle when, after scoring three runs to start the contest, their 3-0 lead disappeared in the bottom of the first. But once Jake East relieved and got out of the inning and Bryant piled up seven runs in the second, it was no contest.

East led the offense, going 5-for-5 with four runs batted in. Misenheimer was 3-for-4 with two knocked in. Allen, Knowles, Smith and Brown had two hits each. Misenheimer and Knowles blasted home runs along the way.

The first-inning runs were highlighted by Misenheimer’s blast to left-center. East had started the inning with a shot into the gap in left-center for a double. Allen got a bunt down that allowed East to hustle home. Allen wound up at second, stole third and scored on Hurt’s groundout. A pitch later, Misenheimer slugged his round-tripper.

In turn, Junior Deputy took advantage of a pair of errors with a pair of doubles to tie the game in the bottom of the inning.

The game-breaking second started with a single to left by Brown. Vargas, in as a pinch-runner, stole second and scored on East’s second double. A passed ball allowed East to take third and, after Allen walked and stole second, Hurt’s groundout drove in the run. Misenheimer singled to plate Allen, making it 6-3, and Orender was hit by a pitch. The duo worked a double steal to get to second and third, then pulled it off a second time to get Misenheimer home. An out later, Knowles clubbed his homer to left-center to make it 9-3.

Smith kept the inning going with a single to right and Brown followed suit, sending Smith to third. East got him home with a bunt single.

Junior Deputy managed a pair of two-out hits in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t dent the plate.

Bryant proceeded to get back to work on offense, piling up six more runs in the top of the third. Misenheimer got things cranked back up with a double to right-center. He advanced on a passed ball and scored on Orender’s single.

Though Orender was picked off first, the inning continued with a walk to Kelly, who stole his way to third and scored on a single by Knowles. A base hit by Smith preceded Hastings getting hit by a pitch. East’s single drove in a run then a passed ball moved runners to second and third. Allen walked to load the bases but was forced at second on a grounder to short by Hurt that allowed Hastings to score. East scored moments later to make it 16-3.

Junior Deputy put together a couple of singles in the bottom of the third but, again, East forced them to strand both as Misenheimer caught a pop to third.

Bryant put the finishing touches on their offensive show in the top of the fourth. With one out, Abernathy reached on an error and Knowles walked. Smith bounced into a force at third but Hastings doubled in a run and singles by East and Allen topped things off.

Smith pitched the bottom of the inning and worked around a lead-off walk to close out the win.

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