BENTON — The Bryant 6-year-old All-Stars reached the finals of the Southwest Regional[more] Tournament at Bernard Holland Park, battling back through the loser’s bracket to challenge the Theodore, Ala., team for the championship. In a wild, hotly-contested back-and-fourth battle, Theodore, however, eked out a 15-14 win. Bryant, the Arkansas South State champion, took home the runner-up trophy after going 5-1 in the tournament.
The Bryant 6-and-under team, coached by Brad Chism with assistance from Patrick Schroeder, Jeff Jackson and C.J. Brown, includes J.T. Allen, Gavin Benson, Carter Brown, Cooper Chism, Zachary Covert, Avery Heidelberg, Drake Holland, Landon Jackson, E.J. McCoy, Andrew Schroeder, Braxton Speer, Aiden Stout, and Hudson Thomason.
The team opened the tournament with a 10-3 win over Bentonville then throttled Jacksonville, 23-0. In their third game, they knocked off Harrison-Hancock, Miss., 13-5, then ousted the Mississippi team, 5-3.
In the semifinals, Bryant’s Stars eliminated Sylvan Hill, 9-2, to set up the championship showdown on Monday, July 15.
Theodore, Ala., 15, Bryant 14
Bryant held an 11-9 lead after two innings but Theodore scored six times in the top of the third and, despite a comeback, held on for the win. The game ended with the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position for Bryant after two runs had scored in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The rally was fueld by a single from Chism and a double by Benson. With two down, Jackson came through with an RBI single and Covert knocked in Benson with a double before the final out was recorded.
Alabama had grabbed a 4-0 lead in the top of the first only to have Bryant answer with five in the bottom half. Allen and Thomason singled to set the table for McCoy, who cracked an RBI double. Though Thomason was thrown out trying to score on the play, Brown followed with a double and, with two down, Heidelberg, Chism and Benson cracked base hits to make it 5-4.
Theodore took its turn and whipped up five runs to regain the advantage, 9-5. But Bryant’s added the run limit of six runs in the bottom of the second. One-out singles by Covert and Holland got things started. Allen doubled then Thomason, McCoy, Brown, Stout and Heidelberg ripped consecutive hits as Alabama was unable to get another out in the inning.
The answering max inning produced a 15-11 lead for the Theodore team, which knuckled down defensively and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third to maintain the four-run advantage.
Bryant’s defense also stepped up, holding Alabama to just a double in the fourth and a pair of singles in the fifth to give them a chance to rally. A single by McCoy and a triple from Brown whittled a run off the margin in the bottom of the fourth setting up the dramatic finish.
Bryant 9, Sylvan Hills 2
To get to the final, Bryant shut down Sylvan Hills while building a 9-0 lead over the first three innings earlier on Monday. A five-run first got Bryant off to a strong start. Allen, Thomason, Brown and Stout had singles in the inning before Heidelberg doubled. With two down, Benson and Schroeder came through with hits that capped off the inning.
In the second, Bryant had two outs when the scoring picked up again. Holland had singled but was forced at second on Allen’s grounder to third. But Thomason revved things up with a double, McCoy singled and Brown cleared the bases with a triple.
Heidelberg singled to start the third. He was forced at second on a grounder by Chism but Benson got Chism to second with a tap to the pitcher and Schroeder socked a single to get him home.
Sylvan Hills, needing three runs to stay alive in the top of the fourth, only got two.
Bryant 5, Harrison-Hancock, Miss., 3
After having defeated the Mississippi team on Saturday, Bryant got a second win over the visitor on Sunday. After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Bryant held Mississippi until the top of the fifth when a two-run rally cut into the 5-1 lead Bryant had built.
The initial Harrison-Hancock lead didn’t last long. Bryant scored three times in the bottom of the first on singles by Speer and McCoy and doubles by Thomason and Stout. Speer, by the way, would suffer a broken collarbone later and be lost for the rest of the tournament.
It stayed 3-1 until the bottom of the fourth when Bryant added two critical runs. Speer singled and scored on Thomason’s triple. Brown drove in Thomason with a single.
Mississippi rallied for two runs in the top of the fifth and had runners at first and second but Bryant got the final out to secure the victory.
Bryant 13, Harrison-Hancock, Miss., 5
In Saturday’s meeting between the two teams, Bryant piled up five runs in the first and six in the second to take control of the game with an 11-1 lead. Both teams scored twice in the third and Harrison-Hancock had a chance to stay in contention in the top of the fourth but its two runs weren’t enough with the run-limit.
Bryant’s opening outburst started with a single by Allen. With one out, McCoy chased him home with a triple. Thomason singled to plate McCoy then Brown bashed a double. With two down, consecutive hits by Heidelberg, Chism and Benson ran it to 5-0.
Harrison-Hancock managed a run in the top of the second but Bryant never made an out in the home half. Jackson and Covert singled then Holland hammered a two-bagger. Allen doubled in two and, after Speer singled, McCoy mashed a double then scored on Thomason’s single.
Heidelberg put the finishing touches on the rout with a two-run homer in the third. Brown, who had singled, scored on the play as well.
Bryant 23, Jacksonville 0
Max innings in the first, second and fourth produced the rout over Jacksonville, which managed just one base-runner in the game.
In the first, Allen and Speer singled to set the table. McCoy and Thomason each drilled doubles and, with one out, Stout smacked a triple. Heidelberg singled him in then hits by Chism and Benton brought him around with the sixth run.
Schroeder doubled to open the second. Jackson and Covert cracked singles then Holland hit a double. Allen and Speer spanked singles before McCoy cleared the bases with a triple.
Bryant didn’t get six in the third but did the next best thing, scoring five. Thomason singled and Brown blasted a triple. Stout’s double made it 14-0. With one out, Chism chocked up another double and Benson belted a triple. When he scored on Schroeder’s single, it was 17-0.
The final barrage began with a one-out double by Speer and a home run from McCoy. Thomason, Brown, Heidelberg, Chism and Benson completed the scoring with singles.
Bryant 10, Bentonville 3
In the opening game, it was close for a while. Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the first on a single by Speer, a double by McCoy and a two-out RBI single for Brown.
After holding Bentonville in the first two innings, Bryant made it 4-0 in the home second on singles by Heidelberg, Chism, Schroeder, and Jackson.
Bentonville broke through with a run in the top of the third but Bryant blew the game up with a six-run third, ignited by singles from Allen and Speer. With one down, Thomason singled and Brown belted a double. Hits from Stout, Heidelberg, Chism and Schroeder ran it to 10-1.
A two-run fourth wasn’t enough to keep Bentonville in range for a rally.