Photos courtesy of Kevin Nagle
LONG BEACH, Miss. — The Bryant All-Star team has captured the championship of the Southwest[more] Regional Tournament for 7-year-olds.
The team, managed by Jeremy Stovall with assistance from Chad Kemp, Michael Brower and Marcus Johnson, is Garrison Blacklaw, Brady Brower, Reid Catton, Clay Crawford, Gage Horn, Dillon Hunt, Grant Johnson, Carson Kemp, Gideon Motes, Carson Nagle, Hank Penfield, and Caden Stovall.
On Monday, the Stars completed an unbeaten run through the tournament field with an 8-5 win over the Oak Grove Nationals of Hattiesburg, Miss., in the semifinals then, in the championship game, a 7-2 victory over Jonesboro Red.
Bryant outscored their seven opponents in the tournament by a total 69-15.
Bryant 7, Jonesboro Red 2
Nagle, Hunt, Kemp and Catton each had two hits in the final. Kemp and Brower knocked in two apiece.
Jonesboro grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second but the advantage didn’t last long as Bryant struck for three in the bottom of the inning. Nagle instigated the uprising with a single to center. With one out, Stovall beat out a bunt hit with Nagle hustling all the way to third. After Stovall swiped second to get into scoring position,
Motes got a bunt down that wound up scoring both runs.
Motes, who dug for second and made it on the play, took third on Brower’s grounder to first and snuck home before Red could make a play.
Up 3-1, Bryant set down Jonesboro in the top of the third despite a one-out single. A pop to short and a fielder’s choice sent it to the bottom of the inning.
And Bryant tacked on. With one out, Catton beat out a bunt hit and Penfield spanked a single to left. Kemp swatted a single to right driving in both Catton and Penfield to make it 5-1.
Jonesboro clipped a run off the margin in the top of the fourth with a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly but Bryant got the final out forcing Red to strand a runner at third.
A two-run fourth set the final score. Hunt beat out an infield hit then stole second to set the stage for Nagle’s RBI double. After Nagle took third on Horn’s grounder to second, he scored when Stovall tapped out on a roller that the catcher had to come out to get. His only play was to first.
Neither team scored in the fifth with Crawford the only one to get on base with a two-out single in the bottom of the frame.
Jonesboro threatened in the top of the sixth. A one-out single and a two-out hit plus a double steal had two in scoring position but a grounder to the pitcher brought the final out and the championship celebration.
Bryant 8, Oak Grove Nationals 5
Penfield and Johnson each belted three hits to lead Bryant to a come-from-behind victory. Kemp and Hunt added two hits and two runs batted in apiece.
Oak Grove grabbed a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning and led through four innings before Bryant erupted with five runs in the bottom of the fifth to turn a 5-3 deficit into an 8-5 lead.
And when the Mississippi team was unable to even get a man on base in the top of the sixth, Bryant had the victory.
The winning rally began with three consecutive bunt singles by Brower, Blacklaw and Crawford. With the bags full, Catton lined a single to right for an RBI then Penfield shot a single to left to plate the tying run.
Crawford scored the go-ahead tally on Kemp’s grounder to first. Johnson beat out an infield hit as the runners held at second and third so, with the bases filled again, Hunt hammered a double to center, making it 8-5.
The Bryant Stars trailed 4-0 when they came to bat for the first time. Consecutive hits by Catton, Penfield and Kemp produced the first run but that’s all they could get despite another hit by Johnson.
Horn and Motes had hits in the second but Motes was caught trying to steal second to end the threat. In the third, Crawford’s two-out single went for naught and Oak Grove added a run in the top of the fourth.
Trailing 5-1, Bryant scratched out two in the bottom of the fourth. Penfield and Kemp singled but a pickoff play left Kemp at first with one out. Johnson singled and Hunt beat out a bunt to fill the sacks for Nagle, who beat out an infield hit to third, making it 5-2.
Though Johnson was picked off third, Horn fought off a pitch for a bloop single that got Hunt home.
Oak Grove was retired in order in the top of the fifth, setting up Bryant’s game-turning outburst in the home fifth.