CONWAY — The Bryant eight-year-old All-Stars rolled to a 14-6 win over[more] Arkansas Elite on Sunday, Feb. 24, to capture the championship of the Early Bird Showdown baseball tournament in Conway.
The Bryant 8’s opened the tournament on Saturday with a 17-0 win over the Bryant 7’s then suffered a 15-2 loss to Arkansas Elite. But they came back to defeat the Bryant 7’s 13-5 on Sunday to set up the rematch with Arkansas Elite in the championship game.
The team, coached by Joey Small, includes Luke Bickerstaff, Drake Brown, Tucker Dunn, Braxton Fischer, Matt Griffe, Mason Lucas, Tanner Newell, Logan Owen, Reece Rowland, Alex Skelley, Chase Small, Dylan Stroud and Daniel Taylor.
Bryant 8’s 14, Arkansas Elite 6
Bryant was clinging to a 6-4 lead going into the top of the fifth inning but erupted for seven runs to break the game open. Owen’s single started the uprising. Consectuve hits by Griffe and Newell loaded the bases. After Owen was forced at home, Brown and Bickerstaff drove in runs with base hits before Lucas and Taylor ripped back-to-back doubles to make it 11-4. Fischer drove in Lucas with a bloop single to right then Dunn beat out a bunt for an RBI hit to make it 13-4.
Arkansas Elite whittled a pair of runs off the margin in the bottom of the inning but, in the sixth, hits by Small, Owen, Griffe and Stroud put it out of reach, bringing the contest to an end.
The 8’s had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the opening inning. Base hits by Small, Owen and Newell loaded the bags for Stroud who drove in the run.
The Elite countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a brief lead. Bryant tied it 2-2 in the top of the second on hits by Bickerstaff, Lucas and Taylor that set the table for an RBI groundout off Fischer.
Two runs in the bottom of the inning allowed Arkansas Elite to regain the upper hand but, again, it didn’t stay that way long as Bryant pushed four runs home in the top of the third to set the 6-4 lead that lasted until the top of the fifth.
The third-inning started with base hits from Rowland and Small. Owen bounced into a force at second and when Small tried to get to third, he was thrown out. So, suddenly with two out and only one on base, it looked like the 8’s might not score. That’s when Griffe came up and drilled a homer to center, tying the game.
Base hits by Newell, Stroud and Brown filled the bags again for Bickerstaff who chased in two with a base hit to left.
Bryant 8’s 13, Bryant 7’s 5
A six-run first and a five-run second put the 8’s on the way to victory earlier on Sunday. The opening salvo came after the 7’s had posted a run in the top of the first. In the home half, Small beat out an infield hit and Owen doubled him to third. Griffe’s hit drove in Small then Newell doubled to plate Owen, though Griffe was thrown out at the plate.
Stroud got things going again with a line-drive single, driving in Newell from second. A base hit by Brown set the table for Bickerstaff’s RBI double and a run-scoring hit by Lucas. Bickerstaff scored on a groundout by Taylor, making it 6-1.
In the second, Dunn got things started with an infield hit. Rowland followed up with another then Small grounded into a force at second. With runners at the corners, Owen hit a liner off the pitcher for a hit as Owen held at third.
With the bags packed, Griffe stroked a double to center, driving in a pair. Newell picked up an RBI with a grounder to second then STroude, Brown and Bickerstaff produced hits that capped the inning with the 8’s leading 11-1.
They added a run in the third on hits by Taylor, Dunn and Rowland. The 7’s responded with a four-run uprising in the fourth but that was all they could get as the 8’s closed out the win.
Arkansas Elite 15, Bryant 8’s 2
The game was 4-2 after an inning and stayed that way until Arkansas Elite erupted for five in the third and six in the fourth to ensure the win.
Bryant’s runs came in the top of the first on a single by Owen, a one-out RBI triple by Griffe and a run-scoring groundout by Newell.
Bryant 8’s 17, Bryant 7’s 0
The 8’s gradually built an 8-0 lead then scored nine times in the fourth to bring the game to a conclusion.
In a two-run first, Small led off with a double. He moved up to third on a groundout by Brown then scored on a single by Griffe. Newell then doubled him home.
In the second, Owen, Bickerstaff and Lucas single to jam the sacks for Taylor who drove two of them home with a double. Though Lucas was thrown out at the plate, Taylor wound up at third and he scored from the there on an infield hit by Fischer to make it 5-0.
Singles by Rowland, Small and Brown produced the first run of the third, though Small was thrown out at second. Griffe revved it up again with an RBI double and, with two down, Stroud singled to make it 8-0.
The nine-run fourth was ignited by Taylor and Fischer with singles. Dunn’s base hit drove in Taylor. Rowland’s hit filled the bags then Small drove in two with a single.
With one down, Griffe started the merry-go-round up again, loading the bases with a hit. Newell knocked in a pair of with a shot past shortstop then Stroud singled in a run. Owen lined a hit to right then Bickerstaff looped a single to right that brought both Stroud and Owen home to end the game.