Bryant 12’s earn a shot at Regional championship

SILOAM SPRINGS — The Bryant All-Stars will play for the championship of the 2019 12U Southwest Regional Tournament on Tuesday against the Matthews Park, Ala., All-Stars, hoping to a avenge a 13-0 loss in the winners’ bracket final to the Alabama team early Monday afternoon.

Sent to the losers’ bracket, Bryant battled past Meridian, Miss., 3-2, to earn another shot at Matthews Park, which has dominated all three of its games in the tournament, opening with a 22-4 win over Kentwood, La., and a 16-2 win over Plainview, Texas, before facing Bryant today.

Meridian reached the losers’ bracket final with a 15-7 win over Mountain Home on Monday.

Game time on Tuesday has yet to be decided but to win the championship Bryant will have to defeat Matthews Park twice.

The Bryant 12’s, coached by Paul Speer, include J.T. Allen, Luke Andrews, Gavyn Benson, Eli Berry, Cohen Chalmers, Blaine Duer, Kolby Duncan, Avery Heidelberg, Dante Hernandez, Landon Jackson, E.J. Keith, Colt Martin, Braxton Speer, Aiden Stout, Hudson Thomason.

Bryant 3, Meridian, Miss. 2

Bryant snapped a 2-2 tie with a run in the top of the sixth then, behind the pitching of Kieth, held Meridian in the bottom of the inning to earn the victory.

Allen scored the decisive run in the top of the sixth when he was hit by a 3-0 pitch to lead off the inning. He stole second and was balked to third. Speer followed with a sacrifice fly to left.

With two out, Thomason drew a walk but, after a pitching change, Hernandez, running for Thomason, was thrown out trying to steal on a 2-0 pitch.

In the bottom of the sixth, a fly to Allen in center and a groundout to Jackson at short had Bryant within an out of victory. A single kept Meridian’s faint hopes alive before a fly to Berry in right ended the game.

Meridian wound up with just five hits including a pair of doubles. Bryant had just three hits, but they included a double by Keith and a homerun by Allen.

Berry pitched the first four innings, blanking Meridian until the bottom of the fourth when Bryant’s lead was cut to 2-1 on a one-out double, a steal of third and a balk.

Berry finished the inning by pitching around a pair of walks. Keith took over in the bottom of the fifth. He surrendered a lead-off double but then struck out the next two batters. It looked like he was out of the inning when he induced a grounder to third, but the ball was misplayed, and the run scored. Thomason, the Bryant catcher, then threw that runner out when he tried to steal second, ending the inning.

Bryant, likewise, was shut out through three innings. The lone hit to that point was a lead-off double by Keith in the second. Thomason sacrificed him to third but when Benson flew out to right and Keith tried to tag and score, he was nailed at the plate.

In the top of the fourth, Heidelberg drew a lead-off walk. Duncan, in as a pinch-runner, stole second then Allen blasted one to center for a two-run homer.

Matthews Park, Ala., 13, Bryant 0

The Alabama team took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run homer, and their pitcher proved to be very tough. He blanked Bryant on just one hit, allowed two walks and struck out five over four innings.

Bryant’s lone hit was a clean single up the middle by Berry to lead off the fourth inning.

By then Matthews Park had added four runs to its lead in an error-plagued top of the third. An error, a single and another miscue increased the lead to 4-0. Then a two-run homer made it 6-0.

Despite another pair of errors, Speer, the Bryant starting pitcher, got out of the inning with no further damage with a strikeout and a grounder to Heidelberg at second.

A three-run homer in the top of the fourth made it 9-0 Four more scored in the inning to set the final margin.

Bryant was retired in order in the bottom of the fourth. The only other base-runners for Bryant included Heidelberg, who walked with one out in the first and Benson, who walked with two down in the second.

Along with Speer, Dozier and Chalmers pitched for Bryant in the game.

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