Bryant 12’s bid for State title ended by rivals from Benton

LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant 12-year-old All-Stars (50/70) were denied another shot at the Little Rock Junior Deputy All-Stars in the championship round when they suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to their rivals from Benton in the losers bracket final at the State Tournament at Junior Deputy Park Tuesday night.

Junior Deputy knocked both Bryant and Benton into the losers bracket. Bryant, which lost to the Little Rock team in the second round of the tourney, battled back to reach the losers bracket final with wins over Camden and Hot Springs. The game against Hot Springs began on Monday and was interrupted by rain in the first inning with Bryant holding a 3-0 lead. They completed the contest on Tuesday then Bryant took on Benton 30 minutes afterwards.

The Bryant team includes Conner Alliston, Bailey Bowers, Luke Brantley, Chase Brooks, Zach Byars, Conner Chapdelaine, Jordan Gentry, Zach Jackson, Caleb McElyea, Liam Miller, Conner Tatum, Hunter Winkles and Matthew Vangilder. The team is managed by Danny Jackson with assistance from Bryon Glenn and Johnny Alliston.[more]

Benton 2, Bryant 1

Benton snapped 1-1 tie by taking advantage of a pair of Bryant errors with a single to plate a run in the top of the fourth inning. A bigger inning was avoided when, on a drive to right field, Gentry fired a throw into second to get a force play for the second out. A groundout to Tatum at short ended the inning.

Bryant had runners on base in each of the subsequent at-bats but couldn’t get the clutch hit that would tie the game.

In the bottom of the fourth, Brooks reached on an error and stole second but the next three batters struck out.

In the fifth, Jackson reached on an error and Chapdelaine came in to run for him. He stole second and, an out later, Byars beat out a bunt single. But with runners at first and third, a strikeout and a fly to right ended the threat.

In the seventh, Winkles drew a one-out walk and, with two down, Brantley singled to right to send him to third only to have a tap back to the mound end the game.

Benton took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on another pair of errors. Brantley, the Bryant starter on the mound, got out of the inning with the help of his defense which ran down the lead runner in what turned into a doubleplay.

In the second, a base hit, a stolen base and a groundout had a runner at third for Benton but a grounder to Tatum brought a throw to the plate where Jackson, the catcher, tagged out the runner. Brantley struck out the next batter.

Bryant threatened in the bottom of the second when Bowers and Brooks each singled and stole a base with two out but both were stranded. After Benton was retired in order in the top of the third, however, the Bryant Stars tied it. Tatum reached on an error, stole second and scored on a double by Brantley.

They made a bid to take the lead when Jackson reached on an error and stole second. Bryant, however, tried to score on a passed ball only to have the Benton catcher scramble after the ball and get it to the pitcher in time to tag him out.

With two down, Byars walked and McElyea was hit by a pitch to load the bases but a pop to third ended the threat with the score tied 1-1.

Benton answered with the go-ahead run in the top of the fourth. After that, Jackson came on in relief and, thanks in part to a nicely turned doubleplay, kept Benton from adding to the advantage.

Bryant 16, Hot Springs 5

The Bryant Stars unleashed the power with six home runs including two by Brantley and two by Jackson in their romp over Hot Springs.

Bryant scored multiple runs in all four innings including three in the first before the rains came. Tatum tripled to open the game and, after Brantley was hit by a pitch, Jackson singled. With two down, Gentry smacked a double to left-center to make it 3-0.

Bowers pitched into the third, working around an error and a single in the first.

Bryant tacked on four runs in the second. With one out, Byars and Tatum singled then Brantley blasted the first of his two homers. Jackson followed with a solo shot to make it 7-0.

In the bottom of the inning, Hot Springs got into the act, scoring three times on a two-out home run.

Bryant’s four-run third trumped that. Brooks singled and, after a pitching change, Miller beat out a bunt for a hit. Byars’ groundout got Brooks to third then he and Hunter worked a double steal to produce the first run.

With two down, Brantley singled to make it 9-3 then Jackson mashed his second round-tripper to make it 11-3.

A two-run homer in the bottom of the inning completed Hot Springs’ scoring. Brantley came on to get the final three outs but not before a single and an error put Hot Springs in position to score again.

Bryant’s fourth began with Alliston getting hit by a pitch and Brooks shooting a single to left. With two down, McElyea blasted a home run. And after Tatum walked, Brantley sent his second blast over the boards in left to cap off the slugfest.

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