PICAYUNE, Miss. — The Bryant Athletic Association All-Stars battled all the way to the finals of the Cal Ripken 7-year-old Southwest Regional tournament last weekend, winning five of five of six games including a payback for their lone loss.
And, when they got to the finals on Sunday, they ran into a previous acquaintance. In the 6-year-old Regional in 2016, it came down the Bryant and Westside, Ala. The crown was claimed by Westside. On Sunday, history repeated itself as Westside denied Bryant’s Stars again with an 8-1 win to capture the championship.
The Regional runner-up Bryant team, which captured the Arkansas State championship, is coached by Rick Brown with assistance from Seth Hyder, Jacob Hunter and Mike Abrahamson, and includes Mason Abrahamson, Brady Brown, Amarii Clary, Dax Drake, Tagan Dunn, Garrett Hill, Evan Hill, Wyatt Hunter, Keller Hyder, Ethan Kelley, Austin Markham and Crews Thomason.
On the way to the finals, Bryant opened with a 9-5 win over host Picayune, Miss., before suffering a 10-7 loss to Petal, Miss., on Thursday, July 13. On Friday, they came back with an 18-5 romp over St. Charles Parish, La., and a 15-1 blasting of Harrison-Hancock, Miss.
Saturday, in bracket play, Bryant ousted St. Charles Parish, 8-2, then eliminated Petal, Miss., in a wild 16-10 contest in the semifinals, setting up the title game.
Those wins included knocking off the Louisiana State champions and the undefeated Mississippi State champs. Westside was the undefeated Alabama State champions.
Westside, Ala., 8, Bryant 1
After a four-run first for Westside, the highlight for Bryant not only the run they scored in the second but a triple play in the bottom of the fourth.
A doubleplay helped them end the first-inning uprising as Thomason grabbed a line drive at second and doubled off a runner.
Bryant made it 4-1 in the top of the second. With two out, Evan Hill singled then raced all the way home on Clary’s double to right.
Westside got that run back in the bottom of the third. In the home fourth, an inside-the-park homer, a triple and a single made it 7-1. Another runner got aboard on an error but Bryant came up with a wild 7-4-2-5-4-5-6 triple play. Brown fielded the ball in left and hit Thomason, his cut-off man. Thomason fired home to the catcher Drake to nail the lead runner. Drake fired back to Thomason who relayed to third as the second runner got caught in a rundown involving Hunter at third and Kelley at short. The batter was then tagged out as he tried to sneak into second.
Westside added the clinching run in the fifth putting the game out of reach with a six-run limit per inning.
Bryant 16, Petal, Miss. 10
The two teams battled for seven innings as Bryant came from behind after trailing 7-0 going into the fourth. It was tied 10-10 after six then Bryant maxed out the seventh leaving Petal behind and unable to counter.
The comeback began with three runs in the fourth. Consecutive singles by Drake, Kelley and Thomason produced the first run. An error allowed Kelley to score then Abrahamson doubled in the third tally.
Petal countered with two more runs in the bottom of the inning but Bryant was not to be denied. In the top of the fifth, a one-out single by Evan Hill got things revved up again. Clary beat out an infield knock and, with two away, the barrage began. Dunn doubled in two and took third on the late throw to the plate. Drake doubled him home then scored on Kelley’s triple. Thomason singled to make it 9-8.
Petal could score just once in the bottom of the fifth and Bryant promptly tied it up in the top of the sixth when Hunter doubled then scored when Brown’s single to right was mishandled. Markham’s single drove in Brown with the tying run.
Another error allowed Hyder to reach but Petal worked out of the inning to send it to the home sixth. Despite an error, the Mississippi team was unable to score.
Bryant got better production for the error that started the seventh as Dunn raced all the way to third. Drake’s single snapped the tie.
But Bryant had only just begun. Drake reached second on a misplay then scored on a double from Kelley. Thomason singled and took second as Kelley held at third. Both sprinted home on Abrahamson’s shot to left for a double.
Hunter reached on another error, making it to second. Abrahamson scored on a groundout by Markham then Hunter scored the final run on Hyder’s infield hit.
Petal produced a one-out single in the bottom of the inning but a liner to Kelley at short resulted in a game-ending doubleplay as he fired to Abrahamson at first to nab the base-runner wandering.
Bryant 8, St. Charles Parish, La., 2
A six-run third put Bryant in the driver’s seat building their lead to 8-0. St. Charles scored twice in the fourth but could muster no more.
After a rain delay, Bryant put up the game’s first run in the bottom of the opening frame. It came on a two-out triple by Abrahamson and an RBI single by Hunter.
In the second, Markham beat out an infield hit and, with two down, scored from first on Clary’s triple.
The big inning was instigated by Dunn’s lined single to center. Drake added a base hit but St. Charles got a force at third on Kelley’s grounder to short. Thomason then came through with an RBI double to left. Abrahamson singled in two and it was 5-0.
Hunter’s base hit set the table for Brown’s RBI double and when Markham singled, two more scored to make it a six-run frame.
A bunt single and an inside-the-park homer gave St. Charles its two runs in the top of the fourth. In the fifth, however, they were retired despite a one-out error. In the sixth, they managed a single. Another error put two aboard before Hyder and Kelley made plays to retire the side.
Bryant 15, Harrison-Hancock, Miss. 1
Scoring in each of the four innings, Bryant run-rule Harrison-Hancock. The outbursts included max innings in the second and fourth before the Mississippi team eked out a run in the bottom of the fourth.
Bryant took a 2-0 lead in the first. Abrahamson’s two-out single was followed by an infield hit from Hunter and a bunt single by Brown. Markham’s base hit to right drove in both runs.
The second-inning uprising started with singles by Evan Hill, Clary, Garrett Hill and Dunn to make it 4-0. Drake picked up an RBI on a groundout to second then Kelley singled in Dunn to make it 6-0.
Thomason and Abrahamson had knocks to bring around the fifth run of the inning then an error on Hunter’s grounder made it 8-0.
In the third, Evan Hill singled in Markham to tack on a run.
After a double play in the bottom of the third, Dunn singled to open the top of the fourth. Drake doubled him home, taking third on the throw home. Kelley singled in a run and took second on an errant throw in. Thomason knocked him in with a hit to left to make it 12-0.
Abrahamson singled and Hunter reached on an error to set the stage for Brown’s two-run knock to right. Another error allowed Markham to get on then Hyder’s single capped the scoring as Hunter and Brown scored.
A double and two groundouts produced Harrison-Hancock’s run. Another double followed but when the runner tried to stretch it to a triple, he was thrown out to end the game.
Bryant 18, St. Charles Parrish, La. 5
In the pool play meeting, Bryant put up six in the first and again in the second to take early control of the game. St. Charles cut it to 12-5 but Bryant added a run in the home third and five more in the sixth to put it out of reach.
The initial blast started with singles by Kelley, Thomason, Abrahamson and Hunter. A third run scored on Brown’s groundout then Markham singled to right to make it 4-0.
Hyder’s liner to short was misplayed then Evan Hill’s grounder to short drew an errant throw allowing Markham and Hyder to score before Hill was thrown out trying to get to second.
St. Charles scored once in the top of the second but Bryant’s onslaught continued in the home half. With one out, Garrett Hill reached second a bad throw. That set up Dunn’s inside-the-park homer.
Drake doubled and scored on Kelley’s single. A base hit by Thomason set up Abrahamson’s two-run double and an RBI triple off Hunter’s bat.
After the Louisiana team scored four in the top of the third, Bryant’s Stars picked up a run when Markham reached on an errant throw and scored on Hyder’s single.
Dunn’s base hit started the fourth. An error in the outfield allowed him to reach third and he scored on Drake’s double. Kelley’s groundball was mishandled as a run scored. Thomason singled and Abrahamson plated two with a triple. Hunter’s RBI double ended the game.
Petal, Miss., 10, Bryant 7
Bryant got off to a good stat but struggle to add to the initial 5-0 lead as Petal rallied for the win, scoring three in the first, three in the third and three more in the fourth. They added a run to make it 10-6 going into the top of the sixth. Bryant whittled a run off the lead on an RBI groundout by Abrahamson after Kelley had reached on an error and Thomason had singled him to third.
An error kept the inning going but a strikeout and a pop up ended the game.
Kelley started the game with a triple to right. Thomason singled him home. Abrahamson grounded into a force at second but Hunter’s grounder drew a wild throw. With runners at second and third, Brown beat out a bunt for an RBI single. An error on the play allowed Hunter to score. Brown wound up at third then scored easily when Markham whacked a triple to center. He scored the fifth run on Hyder’s grounder to short.
Trailing 6-5 going into the fourth, Bryant tied it. Hunter’s grounder was booted, Brown beat out another bunt and, after a force at third on Markham’s tap to the pitcher, Hyder sacrificed and Brown hustled home.
Petal’s three-run fourth proved too much for Bryant to overcome, however.
Bryant 9, Picayune, Miss. 5
Trailing 5-0 going into the bottom of the third, Bryant started the comeback with a run in the home third then scored the maximum of six in the fourth and added two more in the fifth for insurance.
Picayune scored four in the top of the second then forced Bryant to leave the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning. A run in the third made it 5-0 but that proved to be the last of the host team’s offensive production.
Bryant’s third-inning run was a product of a lead-off single by Garrett Hill and, with two out, an error that allowed him to advance all the way to third. Kelley’s infield hit plated the run.
Picayune was set down in order in the top of the fourth and Bryant went back after it at the plate. Hunter started the go-ahead uprising with an infield hit. Brown followed with a bunt that he was able to beat out for a single. The same tactic worked just as well for Hyder, loading the bases for Markham wo picked up an RBI with a grounder into a force at third for the first out.
Evan Hill’s bloop hit to left was misplayed so Hyder scored. Markham followed when Clary grounded out. Garrett Hill’s RBI single tied the game.
Dunn followed with a double that chased in Hill to give Bryant the lead. Base hits by Drake and Kelley brought Dunn around with the sixth run of the inning.
Despite an error, Bryant held Picayune in the top of the fifth. In the home half, Thomason singled to left but remained at first with two down. Brown kept the inning going with a bunt single that was followed by an errant throw to allow the runners to make it to second and third.
Hyder’s bunt single got Thomason home then Markham cracked an RBI double to make it 9-5.