Bryant 14’s accept Regional bid in Clark County’s stead

BENTON — Amidst the disappointment of an 11-3 loss in the winner-take-all championship of the Babe Ruth 14-year-old State Tournament, Bryant All-Stars coach Jason Thompson was informed that the Clark County All-Stars were not going to be able to represent the State at Regionals in Bay City, Texas.

“We had a meeting with the parents and decided to go,” he related later. “I wish Clark County could go because they have a very good team but we talked about it and we agreed that we would go and do our best to represent Arkansas and Bryant. But it was kind of bittersweet.”

The Regional tournament begins Friday, July 30. Thompson reported his team would be opening up against Nederland, a traditional-rich Texas power.

The Bryant 14’s include Wesley Akers, Harrison Dale, Justin Emmerling, Zach Graddy, Ashton Green, Tristan Matthews, Austin Miller, Christopher Phillips, Nate Rutherford, Korey Thompson, Chris Troillett, Chase Tucker and Blake Yates. Jason Thompson manages the team with assistance from Mark Akers.[more]

Wednesday’s loss at Bernard Holland Park marked the second tournament in succession (along with the District) in which the Bryant Stars came through the tournament to the championship round unbeaten only to lose twice and be denied the title.

Perhaps a third time will be a charm.

Bryant held a 2-1 lead going into the third inning of Wednesday’s game before Clark County broke loose with five runs in the third to gain an advantage that was never relinquished.

Initially, the Arkadelphia team had taken advantage of a walk and an error with an infield hit to produce a run in the top of the first.

But the Bryant Stars and Green, their starting pitcher, worked a 1-2-3 second. In the bottom of the inning, Yates was hit by a pitch and, after he stole second, Miller beat out a bunt for a hit. Miller’s steal put runners at second and third. Rutherford and Dale followed with sacrifice bunts that produced the runs before Thomopson beat out an infield hit.

The lead was short-lived, however. The first two Clark County batters in the top of the third were hit by pitches. A pair of hits and a pair of errors contributed to the uprising and when the inning was over, Clark County held a 6-2 lead.

Clark County would add a run in the fourth, three in the fifth and another in the sixth.

Bryant was unable to take advantage of a walk to Rutherford and a single to right by Dale with two down in the fourth. In the fifth, however, Green singled and swiped second, scoring moments later on a one-out single to center by Akers. With steals of second then third, Akers got into scoring position but Graddy’s fly to center was flagged down and Yate’s liner was snatched at second to end the threat.

Bryant managed just one baserunner after that. Tucker reached on an error with two out in the seventh but was stranded when Akers’ liner to left was caught to end the game.

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