JONESBORO — After winning a pool that produced four teams that advanced to the single-elimination championship tournament, the Bryant 11-year-old Cal Ripken All-Stars ran into the only team that had beaten them, Mountain Home, and the same tough pitcher, Austin Jacobelli, in the first round of bracket play. And, unfortunately, the result, though closer, was the same as Mountain Home ended Bryant’s bid for a Southwest Regional title.[more]
Ironically, Mountain Home only advanced out of pool play when Eagle Pass, Texas, had to forfeit a game for using a pitcher beyond the maximum innings during one of its pool play wins.
North Randall County, Texas won the title, defeating Vancleave, Miss., in the finals. The tournament included 14 teams at the outset.
Bryant had opened the tournament with an 8-5 win over Vancleave. After losing 10-1 to Jacobelli and Mountain Home, Bryant bounced back to beat Fort Smith Church, 9-0, and Abbeville, La., 2-1 to win the pool. In the rematch with Mountain Home, the Bryant Stars couldn’t overcome an eight-run fourth, absorbing a 10-3 loss.
Bryant’s 11-year-olds, coached by Bryon Glenn with assistance from Johnny Alliston and Scott Yant, included Connor Alliston, Bailey Bowers, Luke Brantley, Chase Brooks, Zach Byars, Jordan Gentry, Caleb McElyea, Liam Miller, Connor Riley, Connor Tatum, Matthew Vangilder and Hunter Winkles.
Mountain Home 10, Bryant 3
Jacobelli and Vangilder were locked in a scoreless duel through three innings. Bryant had managed three hits, a pair of singles by Alliston and another by Byars while Mountain Home had come up with just two.
But in the fourth, Mountain Home busted out with seven hits to go with a pair of walks, to take an 8-0 lead.
Bryant answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Winkles doubled and Brooks singled to start the rally. Winkles was thrown out at home, however. With two down, Tatum singled and Riley reached on a third-strike wild pitch. Brooks and Tatum wound up scoring.
Mountain Home got those runs back, one in the fifth and another in the sixth to make it 10-2.
Bryant tried to mount a rally in the sixth but could only get one run on a walk to Winkles and two-out singles from Tatum and Riley.
Bryant 2, Abbeville, La. 1
Bowers went the distance for Bryant, winning the pitchers’ duel by limiting Abbeville to one run on five hits. He did his best pitching at the end. In the top of the sixth, a pair of singles had Abbeville in position to tie the game or go ahead, getting runners to second and third. But Bowers struck out the next three batters to end the game with the two base-runners still standing.
Abbeville’s lone run came in the third on a hit batsman, a walk and a pair of groundouts.
Bryant got all the runs it’d need in the fourth on singles by Gentry, Brooks and Tatum.
Bryant 9, Fort Smith Church 0
Vangilder and Alliston combined on the three-hit shutout. Vangilder walked one and struck out three over the first two innings as Bryant built a 5-0 lead. After a four-run third, Alliston took over and finished off the shutout.
Fort Smith’s lone threat came in the fourth when a one-out single, a groundout and a two-out walk had runners at first and third before Alliston got the final out on a tap back to the mound.
Bryant’s three-run first began with a walk to Vangilder. Alliston singled then Bowers grounded into a force at third. But base hits by Gentry, Winkles and Brooks followed producing the three tallies.
In the second, Alliston’s one-out single got another uprising started. With two down, Gentry walked then Wingles and Brooks came through with singles.
Tatum started a four-run third with a base hit. After Riley and Vangilder drew walks, Alliston cracked a double to clear the bases. Moments later, Gentry singled him in to make it 9-0.
Mountain Home 10, Bryant 1
Jacobelli limited Bryant to six hits while he and his teammates scored in five of the six innings.
Mountain Home took advantage of a trio of walks to take a 1-0 lead in the first. A walk and a double produced a 2-0 lead after two innings.
Bowers gave up a lead-off hit in the third but then struck out the side. And Bryant got on the board in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Brooks drew a walk and, with two down, Byars beat out a bunt single. A base hit by Bowers drove in the run but he was retired on the play ending the threat.
Mountain Home countered with three in the fourth to make it 5-1. Bryant made a bid to answer when Alliston singled and Gentry doubled with one out in the home half but both were stranded.
A run in the fifth then four in the sixth extended the Mountain Home lead.
Bryant 8, Vancleave, Miss., 5
A five-run second put Bryant on the road to its first victory over the eventual runner-up.
Winkles doubled to start the uprising and, after Gentry singled and stole second, Vangilder doubled both home. Though Vangilder was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a triple, a walk to McElyea got the offense going again. Riley reached base and so did Tatum on unsuccessful fielder’s choices. Byars then unloaded the bags with a double to deep center.
Bryant added another pair of runs in the top of the third. Winkles again got things started with a base hit. Gentry walked then both stole a base. A passed ball allowed Winkles to score and Gentry to take third where he remained with two down. But Riley came through with a clutch single to bring him home.
Vancleave used a walk and four straight singles to cut the lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the third.
Bryant tacked on in the fifth. Gentry singled, Vangilder sacrificed and a pair of passed balls brought him around to score.
A walk, a stolen base and a single got that run back for Vancleave in the bottom of the fifth which then made some noise in a last-ditch uprising in the bottom of the sixth. A single, a double and a two-run single made it 8-5 but got the first out on strikes then Bryant turned a doubleplay to end the game in style.