By MADISON McENTIRE
LAKE VILLAGE — The Bryant 8-year-old All-Stars overcame unusually poor defense and rallied in the finaltwo innings to open bracket play on Monday, Aug. 3, in the Cal Ripken Southwest Regional with athrilling come-from-behind 13-7 win over the Young Rebels of George County,Miss.
Next up for Bryant is a game at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4, against Donaldsonville, La., a team they defeated 3-1 in pool play. Should they win that, they will immediately face Springdale at 5:30 p.m., with the winner claiming the Southwest Regional championship. [more]
Bryant struck first in the top of the first against George County when leadoff batter Triston Day singled, tooksecond on a ground ball by Logan Chambers, advanced to third on a single by CadeDupree and scored when Will McEntire lined a single to right field. Logan Grantfollowed with a single that scored Dupree and gave the All-Stars a quick 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, George County knotted the score at 2-2 but would havetaken the lead had Day not caught a pop fly behind second base and fired to the plateto catcher Ryan Lessenberry who tagged the runner attempting to score fromthird on the play.
Bryant took a 4-2 lead in the top of the third when Sawyer Holt led off with a single toleft and scored on a triple to deep left-center by Day, who immediately scored on aground ball to second by Chambers.
George County responded immediately with three runs in the bottom of the third. Afterthird baseman Logan Grant threw out the first two batters of the inning, the Rebelscaught a break when Bryant left fielder Holt charged in on a short pop over theinfield but could not hold the ball for the third out of the inning. After a stolen base,single, another Bryant error, and a double to deep left-center, the Rebels had a 5-4 lead,but Bryant escaped further damage when the George County player who had doubledrounded second base too far and was tagged out on the throw from Holt to shortstopChambers.
After Bryant failed to score in the top of the fourth, the Rebels threatened to extend theirlead when they smacked a one-out double, followed by a single which moved therunner to third. The next batter lifted a pop fly halfway to first and near the foul line.Pitcher Dupree raced over, dove headfirst and snagged the ball just off the ground forthe second out of the inning. The next George County batter grounded out to Grant atthird and Bryant still trailed just 5-4.
With the Bryant players in the dugout and some fans in the stands donning their rallyhats, the All-Stars plated four runs in the fifth to take a 8-5 advantage. Logan Catton ledoff and reached on an error by the shortstop. Lessenberry dropped down a sacrificebunt but both runners were safe when the Rebels tried unsuccessfully to force the leadrunner at second. Holt advanced both runners with a perfect sacrifice bunt. Day hit asmash to the George County third baseman who elected to throw to the plate in anattempt to cut down Catton trying to score from third. His throw was off-line, allowingLessenberry to come around to score from second and Day to advance all the way tothird.
Chambers followed with a ground ball which scored Day and reached safelywhen the Rebels first baseman dropped the throw. Chambers then stole second andadvanced to third when the throw went into center field. Nathan McFarland drove him inwith a ground out to the shortstop for the second out of the inning. Dupree followed witha single and Bryant threatened to score again as McEntire hit a deep fly to left wherethe Rebel left-center fielder avoided a collision with his teammate and made a finerunning catch to end the inning.
George County closed the gap with two runs in the bottom of the frame to get within 8-7.With one out, the Rebels had a runner reach second on a throwing error by Grant and the nextbatter singled him to third. A single then scored them both but Bryant again caught abreak when, after stealing second, the runner was tagged out in a rundown that went2-6-9-5. The play proved big when the next two Rebel batters singled but were leftstranded when shortstop Chambers grabbed a line drive to end the inning.
Needing to pick up insurance runs in their last at-bat, Bryant exploded for five moreruns. The speedy Grant reached on an error by the shortstop and then raced around toscore when Garrett Nguyen lined a shot to left-center between two outfielder thatbounced off the body of one of them and rolled into the left field corner for a triple. Aftera pop out by Jake Cowell, Coby Greiner lined a hard shot over the second baseman’shead that went off his glove for a single that scored Nguyen.
The All-Stars then resortedto “small ball” to pad their lead. Catton bunted and reached first as Greiner beat thethrow to second base. After two unsuccessful attempts, Lessenberry dropped down aperfect two-strike bunt and advanced all the way to second on a throwing error by theRebels catcher, with Greiner scoring on the play and Catton taking third. Holt thenbunted for a hit with Catton scoring and Lessenberry moving to third. Day capped thescoring with a sacrifice fly to left-center that brought in Lessenberry and gave Bryant a 13-7lead.
Needing three outs for a victory, Bryant retired the first two Rebels, the second comingon a fine shoestring, diving catch by Greiner in left-center. A miscommunicationbetween Dupree and McFarland resulted in a dropped popup between the mound andfirst and then a throwing error by Chambers put a second man on base but Cattonmade a nice running catch in the outfield behind second base to end the game.