KENNER, La. — The Bryant All-Stars reached the final four of the Southwest Regional 7-year-old Cal Ripken tournament, joining three other teams from Arkansas, when they ran into a familiar rival, Benton. Despite a furious comeback, the Bryant Stars couldn’t overcome an early 9-3 deficit as Benton ended Bryant’s bid for the tourney title, holding on for a 9-8 win.
Little Rock Junior Deputy wound up beating Benton for the Regional championship.
Bryant was awarded the Sportsmanship Trophy.
The team of 7-year-olds, managed by Matt Orender with assistance from Patrick Schroeder, includes Luke Bessire, Dakota Clay, Cooper Davis, Noah Davis, Peyton Dillon, Austin Ledbetter, Jaggar Littleton, Justin Orender, Brett Pennington, Austin Schroeder, Lawson Speer and Garrett Wilson.[more]
Bryant trailed 9-5 going into the top of the sixth inning. The Stars made one more push starting with a single by Ledbetter. Though he was forced at second, Dillon reached base then Bessire, Schroeder, Cooper Davis and Pennington rippled consecutive singles. With two down, Clay rapped a base hit to load the bases including the potential tying run at third and go-ahead run at second. Littleton made a bid for a hit but his grounder toward third was fielded and Pennington was forced out to end the ballgame.
Bryant had opened the game with a two-run uprising to take its only lead. Noah Davis and Ledbetter cracked singles with one out then Dillon chased them home with a double.
But, in the bottom of the inning, Benton erupted for four runs to gain the upper hand.
Bryant got one of those back in the top of the second to make it 4-3. Cooper Davis singled but was forced at second on Pennnington’s grounder to short. Orender singled then Clay got a bunt down to bring in the run.
Benton responded with a five-run outburst that produced the 9-3 lead. Bryant, however, kept the Benton Stars from scoring the rest of the game, giving themselves a chance to get back into it.
Though they didn’t score in the third, the Bryant Stars whittled a run off the lead in the fourth when Dillon singled. He was forced out at second on Bessire’s tap back to the mound. Schroeder sacrificed Bessire to second then Cooper Davis drove him in with a double.
In the fifth, Orender singled but was forced at second on Clay’s grounder to short. Littleton followed with a base hit then Speer’s single drove in the run to make it 9-5.
In the bottom of the inning, Benton put together its first threat since the second with a single and a double that had runners at second and third but a groundout to first kept it 9-5 and set up the dramatic finish.