BENTON — A team of 8-year-old players from Bryant reached the finals of the[more] 8-and-under machine-pitch AA division of the Wally Hall Tournamet of Champions over the weekend before losing a tough 4-3 contest in eight innings to the Arkansas Titans of Van Buren.
The Bryant team won both of its pool games, 11-3 over the Central Arkansas Stixx of Cabot on Friday evening and 13-4 over Hot Springs Monster Baseball on Saturday. In the single-elimination championship tournament, Bryant advanced past the Rogers Redwings, 1-0, to get to the semifinals. An 8-0 win over the Central Arkansas Predators of Little Rock put them in the finals on Sunday.
The team, coached by Matt Orender, Patrick Schroeder and Paul Speer, included Dakota Clay, Cooper Davis, Noah Davis, Peyton Dillon, Will Hathcote, Jagger Littleton, Justin Orender, Brett Pennington, Austin Schroeder, Lawson Speer, Josh Turner and Garrett Wilson.
Bryant 11, Central Arkansas Stixx 3
In the opening win, Bryant put together two big innings, scoring six in the first and five in the fourth. The Cabot team got all three of its runs in the bottom of the fourth, coming up short of avoiding the run-rule.
Noah Davis started the hit parade for Bryant in the first. He and Wilson smacked back-to-back doubles then Cooper Davis mashed a home run. The offense revved up again with singles by Dillon and Hathcote to give Bryant five straight hits before an out was recorded.
Clay’s one-out double plated a run then, with two down, Pennington capped off the uprising with a two-run single.
Orender started the fourth-inning outburst with a single. Turner singled with one down and, with two away, Noah Davis singled, Wilson doubled and Cooper Davis cleared the bases with a triple. He would score the final run on a single by Dillon to make it 11-0.
The Stixx scored three runs on five hits in the bottom of the inning but it was not enough to avoid the run rule.
Bryant 13, Hot Springs Monster Baseball 4
A seven-run second inning broke the game open for Bryant. They built an 11-0 lead before the Hot Springs team got on the board with four in the fourth. A two-run fifth sealed the victory for Bryant.
Three runs in the first provided an initial lead. Noah Davis led off with a double and, an out later, Cooper Davis singled, though was out trying to take second. Hits by Dillon, Hathcote, Spear and Clay completed the inning.
The big second inning began with a single by Pennington. He was forced at second on a ball hit by Orender but then Schroeder walked and Littleton belted an RBI double. Noah Davis singled and, with two down, so did Cooper Davis. Dillon drew a walk then Hathcote ripped a two-base hit before Speer capped off the inning with a hit as Bryant reached the maximum number of runs for an inning.
In the third, Clay singled and advanced on a groundout by Turner. Pennington’s base hit got him to third then he scored when Orender grounded into a force at second.
After leaving the bases loaded in the third, the Monsters put together five hits to score four runs in the fourth.
Base hits by Cooper Davis, Dillon, Hathcote and Turner pushed the final two runs home for Bryant in the fifth then Hot Springs went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Bryant 1, Rogers Redwings 0
In a pitching-machine game, defense, of course, is a premium and these two teams, in the loser-goes-home bracket play, flashed some leather. Rogers just could not dent the plate. In fact, the Redwings only managed to get somebody past first once iin the third inning when a runner was stranded at third.
But Rogers was just about as tough on Bryant, which scored the lone run of the game in the fourth when, with two down, Wilson, Cooper Davis and Dillon cracked consecutive hits.
It was the only time in the game that Bryant got a runner past second.
Bryant 8, Central Arkansas Predators 0
The defensive effort continued for Bryant in the semifinals as they run-ruled the Predators in three innings.
Bryant broke the scoreless tie in the second when Speer opened the floodgates with a single then Hathcote, Turner and Pennington ripped consecutive doubles to make it 3-0. With one down, Littleton circled the bases for a two-run homer that made it 5-0.
The onslaught commenced again in the third when Cooper Davis singled and, an out later, so did Clay. Speer ripped a double and Hathcote singled to set the final score.
Arkansas Titans 4, Bryant 3
Three hits in the top of the eighth produced the run that snapped a 3-3 tie, giving the Titans the lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Littleton reached base leading off and he eventually made it to third but was stranded when the Titans managed the final out.
The game was a scoreless struggle for four innings. In the fifth, the Van Buren team broke out with two runs.
Bryant answered in the bottom of the sixth, tying it up when Noah Davis singled with one out. With two down, Cooper Davis and Dillon mashed consecutive doubles to plate two.
In the top of the seventh, the Titans eked out a run on a two-out single to regain the advantage. But that didn’t last long as Bryant answered in the bottom of the inning to send it to extras. Clay reached base to start the home seventh and, an out later, Hathcote, Turner and Pennington singled consecutively to chase Clay home with the tying tally, setting up the dramatic finish.