MOUNTAIN HOME — Zach Jackson slapped a two-run single to right with one out in the top of the seventh inning to[more] cap off a three-run rally that erased a 3-1 deficit as the Bryant All-Stars opened the Babe Ruth 14-year-old Southwest Regional Tournament with a thrilling 4-3 win over Wharton, Texas on Friday.
Jackson, who went the distance on the mound, closed out the victory by retiring the side in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Afterwards, he was named the player of the game.
The Stars advance to a second round game on Saturday at 11 a.m., against Eagle Pass, Texas.
The Bryant team, managed by Mark Kehrees with assistance from Seth Doxey and Blain Jackson, includes Connor Alliston, Bailey Bowers, Luke Brantley, Chase Brooks, Daniel Darbonne, Jackson, Nick Kehrees, Zach Knapp, Mike Martindale, Caleb McElyea, Liam Miller and Connor Tatum.
Bryant’s game-turning rally in the seventh began with McElyea, who had slugged a solo homer in the third, getting hit by a pitch. Tatum reached when his grounder to short was booted. With the potential tying runs thus on base, Brantley drove a 1-1 pitch to center and, when it was misplayed, McElyea scored and Tatum wound up at third.
With one out, Jackson smacked the first pitch he saw into right-center. Tatum scored and when Brantley beat the throw to the plate, Jackson tried to take second. He was thrown out but the damage had been done.
Both teams had put runners on base in each of the first two innings. For Bryant, Brantley singled with one out in the first, took second on a passed ball and was stranded. In the second, Alliston singled but was erased when Wharton turned an inning-ending doubleplay.
Jackson surrendered a two-out single to Jaylon Tobert in the first but got Edward Garza to bounce to Kehrees at second to retire the side. In the second, Jared Resieck reached on an error, stole second and took third on a balk. But, with one out, Jackson picked him off with Bowers taking a throw from Brantley to make the tag at the plate. Jackson ended the inning with the second of his five strikeouts.
The scoreless deadlock ended with one out in the top of the third when McElyea tied into an 0-1 pitch to drilled it over the fence in left. Tatum followed with a hit but he was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double. Brantley’s base hit was erased when Miller flew out and Wharton caught Brantley trying to tag and take second.
Jackson made the run hold up until the bottom of the fourth. After Alliston had singled and was stranded in the top of the inning, Wharton grabbed the lead on base hits by Garza and Brandon Barrela, a passed ball with two outs, and a two-run single by P.J. Villarreal.
Bryant continued to be frustrated by Wharton’s Jake Zurek. McElyea walked in the top of the fifth but was forced out on a grounder to second by Tatum. In turn, Tatum got into scoring position with a steal but, with two down, he was caught in a rundown after a hit by Miller and tagged out to end the threat.
Jackson pitched around a one-out error in the bottom of the inning but Zurek overcame a walk to Alliston and a two-out error that allowed Martindale to reach base. With Alliston at third, Martindale swiped second to put both in scoring position but Brooks bounced to short as Zurek and the Texans escaped for the time being.
Bryant’s comeback task became a little tougher when Wharton added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out single and an outfield error that made it 3-1.