EAGLE PASS, Texas — One run separated the Bryant All-Stars and the Tri-County, Texas All-Stars in each[more] of their three games at the Cal Ripken 12-year-old Southwest Regional Tournament. In the second round of play, Tri-County edged Bryant, 4-3. But the Arkansas champs battled back through the losers bracket and, on Monday, defeated Randall County, Texas, 3-2, to get another shot at Tri-County in the championship round.
That night, Bryant outlasted Tri-County, 8-7, to force a winner-take-all final today.
And, by the same score they’d prevailed with early in the tournament, Tri-County captured the Regional title and a trip to the Cal Ripken World Series, 4-3.
So close: Bryant had runners in scoring position in both the final two innings but could not get one home.
Team members include Logan Allen, Beaux Bonvillian, Drew Brown, Cameron Coleman, Jake East, Jeffery Hastings, Dylan Hurt, D.J. McKinney, Austin Kelly, Hayden Knowles, Preston Kyzer, Garrett Misenheimer, Aaron Orender, Matthew Sandidge and Scott Schmidt. Manager Darren Hurt is assisted by Rick Brown and Randy Kelly.
Tri-County 4, Bryant 3
Tri-County jumped out to a 3-0 lead getting two right away when the second batter in the bottom of the first ripped a two-run homer. After another run scored in the second, Bryant got on the board in the third when Orender reached on an error, East slugged a ground-rule double that bounced over the fence in right-center then both scored when McKinney hit a grounder to short.
Tri-County pushed another run home in the third to take a 4-2 lead but, in the top of the fourth, Knowles led off with a shot to left-center for a solo homer.
Later in the inning, Kelly reached on a two-out error and Kyzer walked but both were stranded.
Kelly, who had relieved Misenheimer in the third, pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth, forcing Tri-County to strand runners at second and third. East then led off the Bryant fifth with a single. Allen sacrificed him to second then Misenheimer’s groundout to second got him to third. Knowles drew a walk but both were stranded.
Tri-County loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth but Knowles came in to pitch and the Stars turned a doubleplay to escape still only trailing by a run.
Hastings led off the sixth with an infield hit. Schmidt reached on an error but the Tri-County pitcher ended it with his 10th strikeout of the game.
Bryant 8, Tri-County 7
When East slugged a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth — his second blast of the game — it gave Bryant an 8-4 lead. Little did the All-Stars know that it would prove to be the difference as Tri-County rallied with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth. Hurt, the fourth Bryant pitcher, got the final two outs with the potential tying and lead runs at second and third.
Tri-County put an unearned run in the board in the first and got a runner to third in the second when Kelly came in to relieve and fanned a pair to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the inning, Bryant struck for five runs capped by East’s grand slam. Hurt and Hastings drew one-out walks and, with two down, McKinney was hit by a pitch. Kelly walked to force in a run before East unloaded on the first pitch, clearing the fence in left-center.
Tri-County countered with two runs in the top of the third and left the bases loaded. In the home half, Bryant got those back. Misenheimer singled. Though he was retired, Knowles reached on an error. Hurt sacrificed then Hastings tied into one, belting a two-run homer to make it 7-3.
A solo blast trimmed a run off the lead in the top of the fourth before East’s second shot made it 8-4.
Tri-County rallied for a run on a pair of hits and an error in the top of the fifth, stranding runners at first and second. After Bryant was retired in order in the bottom of the inning, the Texas team put together a two-run innings, with the help of an error to cut the margin to one before Hurt closed it out.
Bryant 3, North Randall County, Texas 2
Knowles tossed a two-hitter — both hits singles in the two-run fourth — and wound up scoring the winning run in the bottom of the sixth.
With two out in the sixth, Knowles singled to right. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, took third on a passed ball and scored when Hurt’s grounder to third was misplayed.
All the other runs were scored in the fourth. First, North Randall County put together a two-out uprising on a pair of walks ahead of the only two hits of the game.
Knowles then retired the seven of the last eight batters he faced, allowing only a one-out walk in the sixth.
Bryant threatened to take the lead in the fifth when McKinney singled to left, stole second and then tried to score on a base hit by East only to be thrown out at the plate to end the inning.