Bryant 8’s surge into championship round at State tourney

SHERWOOD — The Bryant 8-year-old All-Stars have advanced to the State Tournament championship[more] round of the 8-and-under State Tournament at Sylvan Hills by knocking two more rivals into the losers bracket Monday night. Bryant bumped off Little Rock Junior Deputy’s 8’s, 5-0, then run-rule the Star City Bulldogs, 13-3, to advance.

As the lone unbeaten team at the tournament, Bryant will play for the championship on Wednesday night at 6 p.m., against the survivor of tonight’s losers bracket action including Star City, Junior Deputy and Lonoke.

The 8-year-old team, headed up by Joey Small, is Luke Bickerstaff, Dawson Brown, Drake Brown, Tucker Dunn, Braxton Fischer, Matthew Griffe, Mason Lucas, Tanner Newell, Logan Owen, Alex Skelley, Chase Small, Dylan Stroud and Daniel Taylor.

Bryant 5, LR Junior Deputy 0

The Bryant defense held Junior Deputy to just three hits, all singles. Offensively, Griffe, Lucas, and Drake Brown each had two hits with Griffe driving in two runs. Bickerstaff and Small contributed doubles.

The game was 1-0 until Bryant threw up three in the fourth to take some of the pressure off.

The first run scored in the first inning when Lucas singled, stole second, tagged and went to third on Bickerstaff’s fly to center and scored on Small’s grounder to second.

Taylor and Drake Brown had hits in the second then Skelley singled in the third but it remained 1-0 until the top of the fourth when Bickerstaff and Small cracked their doubles back-to-back. Griffe singled to make it 3-0 then, after Stroud sacrificed Griffe to third, Taylor delivered a sacrifice fly to center to get him home, making it 4-0.

Bryant put the finishing touches on the scoring in the fifth when Drake Brown beat out a bunt single, took second on a sacrifice by Dunn, third on Skelley’s groundout and home on a base hit by Fischer.

Bryant wound up retiring the last seven Little Rock batters in succession to end the game.

Bryant 13, Star City 3

A six-run first got Bryant on its way to the romp over Star City. The Bulldogs got within 8-3 going into the bottom of the fourth but Bryant ended it with five in the bottom of the fourth.

Lucas had three hits. Dunn had two with a pair of RBIs. Griffe, Newell, Stroud and Drake Brown pitched in with two hits apiece.

The opening blitz in the home first was instigated by Lucas who lined a double to left. He scored when Bickerstaff’s grounder got him to third and a relay to third to try to nab Lucas was misplayed.

With two out, Griffe, Newell, Stroud, Taylor and both Browns cracked consecutive singles. Dunn doubled to make it a run-limit inning.

Star City put together a pair of doubles in the second, plating its first run and Bryant was held in the bottom of the inning. In the third, however, Small singled to center with two down and Griffe drilled a triple to chase him home. Newell beat out an infield hit as Griffe held at third then Stroud singled to make it 8-1.

A two-run fourth kept the Bulldogs alive but only briefly. The game-ending uprising ensued with singles form Drake Brown and Dunn getting it started. Skelley’s bunt single got a run in then Fischer smacked an RBI double. Owen plated two with another double then Lucas drove in the final run with a two-bagger to left.

The 8-and-under Regional Tournament is in Bay St. Louis, Miss., starting July 19.

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