By Madison McEntire
SHERWOOD — The Bryant 8-year-old All-Stars advanced to the finals of the state tournament with a 9-3 win over Hamburg on Tuesday night. By advancing to the finals from of the winner's bracket, they must be defeated twice by the Sylvan Hills 8's, who advanced to the finals from the loser's bracket by beating Hamburg in the late game Tuesday night.
Bryant looked to jump on Hamburg early when the first two batters, Triston Day and Logan Chambers, reached on errors, but did not score when the next three batters made outs.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the third. With one out, Logan Catton reached on an error. Ryan Lessenberry dropped down a sacrifice bunt and the Hamburg catcher attempted to force Catton as second base but threw the ball into center field, allowing Catton come all the way around to score the game's first run.[more]
After getting Hamburg out in the bottom of the frame, the All-Stars increased their lead to 2-0 when Chamber singled, stole second, and came in to score on a single to left field by Will McEntire.
Still leading 2-0 in the top of the fifth, Bryant broke open the game with six runs. Jake Cowell started the inning with a hard single to left. Coby Greiner reached on a bunt single, advancing Cowell to second. Following fielder's choice by Catton, which forced Cowell at third, Ryan Lessenberry beat out a bunt to load the bases. Sawyer Holt then reached on an error by the third baseman, which scored Greiner and kept the bases loaded. Day then reached on a fielder's choice, with Catton scoring when the catcher dropped the throw to the plate. Chambers followed with a single that scored Lessenberry and left the bases loaded for Nathan McFarland, who then drilled a double into the left field corner to clear the bases and give Bryant a 8-0 lead.
Entering the bottom of the fifth, not one of first twelve Hamburg batters had reached base but that changed quickly when the last batter in the lineup blooped a single over the head of third baseman Logan Grant. The leadoff batter then reached on a bunt single. Hamburg attempted another bunt, but Grant quickly fielded the ball and threw to Chamber covering third base to get the lead runner. However, Hamburg was not to be denied as the next two batters reached on a hit and an error and they scored three times to cut the Bryant lead to 8-3.
In the final inning, the All-Stars added an insurance run when Grant reach on an error with two outs, stole second base, and then scored on a hard single by Garett Nguyen. Following a leadoff single in the bottom of the frame, Bryant retired the next three Hamburg batters, the final out coming on a nice play in the hole by shortstop Chambers, and set up the showdown with Sylvan Hills.
The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 15, and the second game (if necessary) will immediately follow.