LITTLE ROCK — When the Bryant 12-year-old All-Stars got to the Cal Ripken Southwest Regional Tournament,[more] they initially ran into the Tri-County All-Stars, based in Weimer, Texas, and suffered a tough 8-6 setback.
They responded by fighting through the losers bracket, eliminating Orange Grove, Miss., 5-4; ousting Lakewood, Ark., 7-3; then dispatching St. James, La., 9-2. That put them in the losers bracket final with two other teams still alive.
Those two teams were Little Rock Junior Deputy, whom Bryant had tangled throughout the South Arkansas State championship tourney (ultimately winning it), and those same Tri-County All-Stars.
The Stars hoped to get a shot at a Regional title and another chance to knock off Junior Deputy but Tri-County got in the way, ending Bryant’s run with a 9-5 decision.
In the final, Junior Deputy won the Regional crown on a walk-off two-run homer.
At the awards ceremony following the game, the Sportsmanship trophy was given to Bryant.
The Bryant 12’s playing on the 50/70 field are managed by Bill Kyzer with assistance from Kirk Schmidt and Chris McKinney. Team members are Logan Chambers, Luke Curtis, Brooks Ellis, Logan Grant, Christian Harp, Brandon Hoover, Preston Kyzer, Dylan McKinney, Grayson Prince, Matthew Sandidge, Scott Schmidt, Jacob Stroud.
Tri-County, Texas 9, Bryant 5
The Texas team built a 4-0 lead in its first two at-bats before Bryant rallied to get within a run. Tri-County’s three-run fourth, however, proved to be too much for Bryant to overcome though the Stars kept battling and were within 7-5 going into the final frame.
Tri-County scored a run in the first and three in the second. In the home second, Bryant got on the board when Kyzer walked, Schmidt singled to left and, after a double steal, Sandidge knocked one off the fence in right-center for a two-run double.
Bryant held Tri-County in the top of the third and whittled another run off the margin in the bottom of the inning. McKinney beat out an infield hit with two down, stole second and raced home on Kyzer’s single to right-center.
After Tri-County countered to make it 7-3, Bryant trimmed the margin in the fourth on a double by Grant and a two-out single by Stroud. Curtis followed with a single to put runners at first and second but Tri-County wriggled out of the jam and maintained the advantage.
Still, in the fifth, the Texans failed to score and Bryant put together another run-scoring inning that ended with the bases loaded. McKinney singled to open the inning. Kyzer belted a single up the middle and Schmidt singled in the run. Though Kyzer was forced at third on a grounder by Grant, a two-out walk to Sandidge filled the bags but, again, Tri-County escaped.
A two-run top of the sixth provided the final margin for Texas.
Bryant 9, St. James, La. 2
Bryant jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and the combination of Prince and Grant made it so that would be all they would need, though then the Stars went on to score in all but the second inning.
The opening salvo was ignited by Sandidge’s infield hit. Prince walked then Ellis blasted a drive that burned the center fielder for a two-run double. McKinney drew a free pass and stole second as Ellis swiped third. Schmidt got the third run home on a grounder to short.
McKinney tried to score on a grounder by Kyzer but was thrown out at the plate to send it to the bottom of the inning.
Prince issued a two-out walk but the runners was thrown out by Stroud, the Bryant catcher, when he tried to steal.
The second was the only inning in which Bryant didn’t score but St. James managed its two runs on a walk, a pair of hits and a wild pitch. But Prince kept it to that when he got the final two outs on a strikeout and a bouncer to Schmidt at short.
Bryant commenced to tack on in the third when Ellis blasted a solo homer to right-center.
Prince worked out of a second-and-third jam with one out in the bottom of the third then contributed an RBI triple in the fourth. Chambers had opened the inning with a single and scored the run.
Grant relieved in the bottom of the fourth and wound up striking out four over the final three innings while keeping St. James off the board despite runners in each frame.
A two-run fifth widened the lead. McKinney walked and Schmidt singled. Kyzer bounced into a force at second as McKinney took third then Grant drove in a run with a squeeze bunt. Chambers singled in Kyzer to make it 7-2.
In the sixth, Prince walked with one out and Ellis reached base ahead of McKinney’s two-run double that capped off the scoring.
Bryant, 7, Lakewood 3
Three-run uprisings in the third and fourth put Bryant in position for the win over Lakewood.
Curtis fired two innings of scoreless relief to close out the win after Schmidt worked the first four frames on the bump.
Both teams scored a run in the second. For Lakewood, it was the result of a lead-off double, a wild pitch and a groundout. For Bryant, Schmidt reached base, stole second, too third on a base hit to left by Hoover and scored when Curtis grounded into a force at second.
Schmidt worked a 1-2-3 top of the third setting up Bryant’s first big inning. A double by Harp opened the floodgates. He advanced to third on Chamber’s grounder to short then Prince blasted a 3-2 pitch over the boards in right to snap the tie.
A walk to Ellis brought a pitching change but the new hurler was welcomed by McKinney’s single. Schmidt’s base hit plated Ellis to make it 4-1.
Lakewood countered with a two-run fourth, scoring on a walk, a stolen base and a pair of RBI hits.
But Bryant turned the 4-3 edge into a 7-3 advantage in the bottom of the frame. Harp singled, Chambers walked and, with two down Ellis yanked a 1-2 pitch for a three-run jack.
Curtis took over from there and retired six of the seven batters he faced, getting the final out on strikes.
Bryant 5, Orange Grove, Miss. 4
Bryant won in walk-off fashion after Orange Grove had tied the game in the top of the sixth, Chambers came through with an RBI single to win it in the bottom of the inning. Grant, who had doubled with one out, raced home with the winning run as the Stars bounced back from their disappointment in the tourney opener.
Ellis went all the way on the mound, rebounding from a two-run homer in the top of the first. He retired the side in the second but, on a single, a sacrifice and a two-out hit, Orange Grove had Bryant down 3-0 going into the home half of the third.
The Stars got up off the deck with a four-run outburst that Chambers initiated with a single to center. When Stroud flew out to center and Sandidge struck out, it looked like they might not get anything but Prince ripped a 1-1 delivery to the fence in right-center and circled the bases for an inside-the-park homer that got Bryant on the board.
The inning continued with Ellis reaching on an error and McKinney knocking an RBI double off the fence in center. Schmidt followed with a drive to right center, trading places with McKinney and putting the Stars ahead 4-3.
It stayed that way until the sixth. Ellis retired the side in order in the fourth then worked around a one-out single in the fifth. Bryant, meanwhile, loaded the bases on a walk to Grant and singles by Chambers and Stroud but could not score in the fourth. McKinney singled with one out in the fifth but was erased in a doubleplay.
In the top of the sixth, an error, a single and a force out produced the tying run only to have Bryant win in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the inning.
Tri-County, Texas 8, Bryant 6
Tri-County built an 8-3 lead over the first three innings then, while Chambers quieted the Texans’ bats, Bryant tried to rally only to come up short.
Both teams scored twice in the opening inning. Bryant went first, sparked by a solo blast to left-center by Prince. Ellis reached on an error and, after moving up when McKinney’s grounder to second was booted, scored when Schmidt grounded into a force at second. Kyzer singled and Curtis walked to load the bases but Tri-County escaped without further damage.
A pair of two-out walks came back to haunt Bryant in the bottom of the inning. A single plated the first run then an error allowed the tying tally to cross the plate.
Despite a lead-off double by Stroud and a sacrifice by Sandidge, Bryant’s Stars were unable to unlock the score in the top of the second but Tri-County scored three times on just one hit in the bottom of the inning to gain the upper hand.
McKinney was hit by a pitch to start Bryant’s third. He moved up when Schmidt reached on an error then scored on the front end of a double steal on which Schmidt was caught in a rundown and tagged out. Curtis singled but was stranded.
A lead-off homer, a single and double forced a pitching change for Bryant as Chambers relieved Prince. A pair of singles produced the runs to make it 8-3.
Chambers went on to pitch around a walk in the fourth and a single in the fifth with his teammates pulling off a doubleplay to end the inning.
Bryant carved a run off the lead in the top of the fourth when Stroud singled, stole his way to third and scored on a base hit by Prince.
Though the Stars were retired in order in the fifth, they mounted one last rally in the top of the sixth. Chambers opened the inning with a single but was forced at second on Grant’s grounder to second. Stroud was plunked by a pitch then both moved up on a passed ball. Another ball got past the cather and Grant scored. With Stoud at third, Prince beat out an infield hit to make it 8-6 but that’s all Bryant could muster.