Bryant 12’s come heartbreakingly close to advancing to Cal Ripken World Series

By Madison McEntire

Photos by Diane Dupree

SPRINGDALE — Bryant’s 50/70 12-year-old All-Stars fell one game short of their dream[more] of going to the World Series in Aberdeen, Md., when they fell to Mountain Home by a score of 8-4 in the “if” game of the Cal Ripken Regional tournament played at the Randal Tyson complex. The game began on Tuesday, July 23, immediately following Bryant’s thrilling 8-7 extra-inning win that forced the deciding game. Heavy rain interrupted the final game in the fourth inning and it was not complete until Wednesday morning, beginning at 10.

Cade Dupree is greeted at home plate by his teammates after his grand slam on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Diane Dupree)

During their six-game tournament run, Bryant was led in hitting by Cade Dupree who was 11 for 20 with a double and two home runs. He drove in nine and scored 11 times.

Team members are Logan Chambers, Logan Grant, Logan Catton, Jacob Coppock, Cade Dupree, Hunter Mullings, Jacob Shepard, Ryan Lessenberry, Will McEntire, Coby Greiner, Zach Wells, and Sawyer Holt. They are managed by Michael Catton with help from assistant coaches Phillip Dupree, Mark Coppock and Madison McEntire.

Mountain Home 8, Bryant 4

Coppock led off for Bryant and struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Dupree flied to center for the second out and then Chambers walked before Grant flied to right.

Although he had pitched the previous day, Coppock was the starter for Bryant. Mountain Home got on the board in its half of the first. Their leadoff batter singled up the middle under Grant’s glove. After he stole second, a grounder to second moved him to third and he scored from there on a wild pitch. Coppock got a pop to Dupree for the second out before the cleanup hitter reached safely when he hit a smash that hopped of the chest of Greiner at third. After the runner moved up on an errant pickoff throw, Coppock hit the batter in the back to put two on. A wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position before a swinging strikeout ended the inning.

In the second, Mullings led off for Bryant and struck out. Catton was hit by a pitch. Greiner chopped a ball back up the middle where the shortstop made a fine play and threw him out, with Catton moving to second on the play. After Catton moved to third on a wild pitch, Shepard walked before Lessenberry flied out to center to end the inning.

Coby Greiner slides safely into second under the shortstop's tag. (Photo courtesy of Coby Greiner)

Mountain Home plated four runs in the second, with all of the damage coming with two outs and nobody on base. After a leadoff single to right, Mountain Home called a hit and run and the ball was lined back at the second base bag where Grant snagged it and fired to first for a double play. The next batter grounded a single to center and then swiped both second and third and scored on a wild pitch on ball four to the batter. After another stolen base, Mountain Home’s two-hole hitter fisted a ball into right to bring the runner home. A passed ball moved the runner up and a single to left-center scored him from second. Lefty Zach Wells came in to replace Coppock and got a high pop fly into left field but no one took charge for Bryant and the ball fell. After a steal of third by the lead runner, a grounder to left brought in the run to make it 5-0. After the runners moved on a wild pitch, Wells got a swinging strikeout to end the inning.

Bryant threatened but stranded two in the top of the third. Coppock slapped a grounder into left for a hit, stole second and went to third on the catcher’s throwing error. Dupree struck out. Chambers walked to put two on but Grant struck out swinging and Mullings grounded to second to end the threat.

With a 2-2 count on Mountain Home’s seven-hole hitter, the game was delayed for 17 minutes due to lighting in the area. When play resumed, Wells’ first pitch was bounced back up the middle for a single. He moved up on a wild pitch before Wells got a swinging strikeout. After the runner stole third, Bryant brought the infield in and the strategy worked as Grant fielded a sharp ground ball and threw the runner out at home with Lessenberry making a nice block of the plate. After the runner on first swiped second, Wells made a good pitch but the batter dribbled it down the third base line. Wells fielded the ball and fired to first too late to get the batter. Dupree fired back to third as the runner from second moved up. His throw was too late and the batter moved to second on the throw. The two-hole batter singled on a soft liner to center to bring a run in before Wells got a grounder to first to end the damage. Mountain Home’s lead had swelled to 8-0.

Bryant went in order in the fourth as Catton lined hard to third, Greiner bounced out to the shortstop on a nice play up the middle, and Wells struck out.

With lightning streaking across the sky, Mountain Home got two solo homers against Wells. As McEntire was heading from the dugout to the mound to take over the pitching duties, play was halted a second time. The mound and home plate were covered with tarps and heavy rain started a few minutes later. Play was postponed until Wednesday at 10 a.m.

When play resumed, Chambers was on the bump for Bryant. After getting ground ball outs to short and third, he allowed a single to center before getting a fly to Coppock in center to end the fourth inning.

Although they were down to their final six outs, Bryant did not go quietly. Lessenberry led off and belted his first career home run over the left field fence. Coppock and Dupree each walked and moved up when Chambers was out on a soft roller up the first base line. Grant reached when he beat out a slow roller to the shortstop. Coppock scored on the play and Dupree moved to third. Mullings grounded out to third as Dupree scored and Grant went to second. Catton lined a ball into right where the fielder bobbled it just enough to allow Grant to slide home under his throw. Greiner lined a single up the middle to put two on. Shepard stepped in and hit a fly to deep left that momentarily gave Bryant and its fans hope for a three-run homer but the left fielder caught it just short of the fence to end the inning. Bryant had cut the lead to 8-4.

Ryan Lessenberry completes his tour around the bases after his home run in the final game of the Cal Ripken Regional Tournament Tuesday morning. (Photo courtesy of Diane Dupree)

Chambers set Mountain Home down in order in the bottom of fifth on two grounders to Catton at second and a squibber up the third base line where Lessenberry picked it up and made a nice throw to first for the third out.

Both Lessenberry and Coppock stuck out swinging for two quick outs to begin the top of the sixth. Dupree lined a single to left and then Chambers walked on a 3-2 pitch but Grant struck out swinging on a high pitch to end the game.


Bryant 8, Mountain Home 7, 7 innings

Grant was the starting pitcher for Bryant and retired the leadoff batter on a grounder to second. A walk and an infield single to the shortstop put two on before a fly to Shepard in right and a line drive to Greiner at third ended the threat.

Bryant scratched a run in the bottom of the first. After Coppock grounded out to third, Dupree and Chambers walked. Grant reached to load the bases when the Mountain Home third baseman couldn’t handle his ground ball. Mullings hit a grounder to short to force Grant at second but he beat the relay to first to avoid a double play as Dupree scored the game’s first run. Catton popped to short to end the inning but Bryant led 1-0.

Mountain Home quickly took the lead in the top of the second. The leadoff batter reached on Catton’s error on a ground ball but Grant got a pop to second and then struck out his first batter of the game for two outs. However, the nine-hole hitter slammed hit next pitch to center for a two-run homer. Grant got the next batter on a grounder to Greiner to send the game to the bottom of the second.

Bryant erupted with a five-run outburst in the second. Greiner reached on a throwing error by the shortstop and Shepard singled to left. After Lessenberry bunted the runners up, Mountain Home intentionally walked Coppock to load the bases. Dupree made them pay when he stepped in and hammered the next pitch to left-center for a grand slam that sent the Bryant fans into a frenzy. After Chambers grounded back to the mound, Grant singled on a grounder down the third base line. Mullings struck out swinging to end the second but Bryant was ahead 5-2.

The first batter in the third slammed a ball back up the middle that struck Grant in the shin but he recovered to make the play for the out. The three-hole batter homered to center to make it 5-3 and an error by Greiner let another runner reach. After he stole second, a grounder up the middle put runners on the corners. The trail runner swiped second before Coppock induced a grounder back to the mound and fired to Lessenberry who tagged out the runner coming from third. Another grounder back to the mound ended the threat.

In the bottom of the third, Catton led off and grounded to shortstop. Greiner bounced a ball to the first baseman who fumbled it and Greiner reached when the pitcher failed to cover first. After he stole second, Shepard dropped down a sac bunt and went all the way to second on the pitcher’s throwing error as Greiner scored. Lessenberry flied to left for the second out. Coppock lined a single into left and when the left fielder dropped to one knee to field it, Shepard rounded third but the throw was on line and he was called out at the plate to end the inning although it looked like he had slid under the tag. Bryant’s lead was 6-3.

Grant got a grounder to second for the first out of the fourth. Mountain Home’s nine-hole hitter smashed a liner to center where Coppock made an outstanding diving catch and raised his glove to show the umpire. A second later the ball popped free and the umpire ruled “no catch” despite the protest of the Bryant dugout. On the next pitch, the runner stole second and appeared to be out again but was once again ruled safe. Grant then recorded a swinging strikeout and a ground ball to second to end the inning.

Dupree led off the bottom of the fourth and was out on a grounder to short as the first baseman made a nice scoop on a ball in the dirt. Chambers grounded out on a big hop to the second baseman. Grant singled on a shot that went off the pitcher’s glove and was fielded by the shortstop but Mullings popped to the first baseman who caught it right at the bag.

Greiner cut off a grounder in the hole and fired to first for a quick out to start the top of the fifth. Grant hit the next batter and then allowed a single to right-center to put two on. After the trail runner stole second, an error by Chambers at shortstop allowed a run to score and moved the second runner to third.
 Another stolen base but two runners in scoring position before Grant got a fly ball to Shepard in right who fired a strike to the plate to hold the runners. Mountain Home’s eight-hole hitter lined a single to center to score a run and the trail runner also scored when the ball scooted by Lessenberry at the plate. Grant recorded the third out on a pop to second but the game was tied 6-6.

In the bottom of the fifth, Catton led off with a liner to the fence in left for a single. He moved to second on Greiner’s soft ground out to the shortstop and then went to third on Shepard’s grounder to third, just beating the first baseman’s throw back across the diamond. Lessenberry lifted a long fly to right-center and the Mountain Home right fielder called for the ball and made a long run only to have it go off his glove at the fence as Catton scored to break the tie. Lessenberry ended up at second on the play. After Coppock was intentionally walked for the second time, Dupree struck out to end the inning. Bryant led 7-6 with three outs to go.

In the bottom of the sixth, Grant got a swinging strikeout and a line drive to Coppock in center for two quick outs. Mountain Home’s three-hole hitter, who had homered in the third inning and would be voted tournament MVP, stepped in the box and on the second pitch launched a shot down the left field line that had home run distance but was foul. Down to Mountain Home’s last strike, two pitches later he hammered a 1-2 pitched to dead center. This one had no chance of being foul and tied the game at 7. The next batter also lined a long foul to left before striking out on a pitch in the dirt. Lessenberry fired to first for the putout and the game went into the bottom of the sixth.

Bryant came within an eyelash of winning in the bottom of the sixth. Chambers led off and grounded out down the line to the third baseman. Grant smacked the next pitch to center for a single and then Mullings flied out to right for the second out. After Grant stole second, Catton ripped a 1-2 pitch down the third baseline that may have drawn chalk and would have scored Grant but the umpire ruled it a foul ball. On the next pitch he popped to short to send the game to extra innings.

With Grant having pitched the maximum of six innings, Coppock took over on the mound for the seventh. He got a swinging strikeout on a 3-2 pitch to start the inning before giving up a ground ball single in the hole at short. The next batter attempted to bunt the runner to second but popped the ball straight up and Lessenberry snagged it for the second out. A grounder back to the mound for the third out sent the game into the bottom of the seventh.

Greiner led off for Bryant and took a close 2-2 pitch before drawing a walk. Holt came in to run for him and went to second on Shepard’s sac bunt. On a 1-1 pitch, Lessenberry hooked a hard grounder to third that went off the third baseman and into left field as Holt streaked around third and scored to give Bryant an 8-7 win and set up a the winner-take-all game.

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