Bryant 15U eases to victory in State pool play opener

To start the 2020 Babe Ruth 15U State Tournament, which might have included more than five teams were it not a COVID summer, the Bryant Black Sox faced Benton’s All-Stars on Friday evening.

And, well, Bryant had them overmatched, just like the Sylvan Hills team did earlier in the day. The Benton team had a rough day losing twice by a combined score of 35-6. 

Bryant won in four innings, 18-3, hammering 14 hits. Hunter Holt was 2 for 2 with two runs scored and four batted in, though he played only half the game. Grant Dunbar, Reid Catton and Matt Griffe each had two hits. Catton and Griffe knocked in three apiece.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., Bryant will take on Fort Smith, which suffered an 8-3 loss to Camden on Friday. The other Saturday pool play game will be Sylvan Hills and Camden. Bracket play begins at 5 p.m., then resumes on Sunday.

Right-hander Carson Kemp retired six of the seven batters he faced in the first two innings, striking out four. He hit a batter with two out in the first. Catton relieved and finished out the game. Two of the Benton runs were unearned in the third. A run on three hits, the only hits Benton had in the game, was added in the fourth.

The game ended when, with runners at first and third with one out, Benton’s Josh Guerreri bounced back to Catton, who threw to first for and out. Laken Woods relayed to the plate to nab Dalton Adair as he tried to score.

Bryant took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Jordan Knox walked, stole second and third then, after Clay Crawford reached on a dropped infield pop, Holt ripped a double into the left-center gap to chase both of them home.

A balk sent Holt to third. He scored on a wild pitch.

In the second, the Sox blew up the game, scoring 11 runs on eight hits.

The eruption began with one out when Luke Bickerstaff and Griffe were hit by consecutive pitches. Knox cracked an RBI single to center and, after a pitching change, Crawford sacrificed the runners to second and third for Holt, who spanked his second hit, a sinking liner to right. Two runs scored.

Aden Palmer chased Holt home from first with a lone double to right-center. He went to third on a wild pitch and, after Kemp walked, another wild pitch allowed a run, making it 8-0.

Dunbar walked on a pitch that went to the backstop. Kemp went to third and Dunbar sprinted around first to second. A walk to Gage Horn loaded the bases for Catton, who yanked a single to left, adding a pair of runs to the total.

Bickerstaff looped a single to right, chasing in Horn. Catton went to third and, after Bickerstaff stole second, Griffe’s lined single to left drove in two more. Griffe scored on a wild pitch then Mason Butler and Tucker Dunn came through with pinch-hit singles before Benton got out of the inning.

Sawyer Chandler reached on an error to start the third. He stole second, took third on a Luke McGhee’s grounder to short then scored on a wild pitch. With two down, Noah Koch reached on an error, stole second then came all the way around to score on a wild pitch.

Catton got Carter Berry to fly to Kemp in left to end the inning.

And the Sox got those runs back in the bottom of the third. Dunbar beat out an infield hit, went to second on a balk, third on Horn’s groundout then scored on Catton’s base hit to right. Bickerstaff drew a walk then Griffe singled in Catton to make it 16-2, just a run short of a run-rule.

Trevor Tucker led off Benton’s fourth with a bunt single, the first of the night against the Bryant pitchers. Adair singled and, with one out, Brody Fox’s single got Tucker home.

Bryant made it a 15-after-3 run rule game in the bottom of the fourth. Dunn walked, Luis Hernandez walked and, when Laken Woods grounded to short, a throw to second in hopes of turning a doubleplay went awry, pulling Koch, the shortstop off the bag.

So, the bases were loaded for Kemp, who brought the game to a conclusion with a two-run single to right.

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