By Madison McEntire
LAKE VILLAGE — The Bryant 8-year-old All-Stars opened pool play on Friday, July 31st, in the Southwest Regional and used great defense, timely hitting, and effective bunting to earn two hard-fought wins.
The Bryant 8-year-olds, coached by Michael Catton with assistance from Madison McEntire and Phillip Dupree, include Logan Catton, Logan Chambers, Jake Cowell, Tristan Day, Cade Dupree, Logan Grant, Cobe Greiner, Sawyer Holt, Ryan Lessenberry, Nathan McFarland, Will McEntire and Garett Nguyen.[more]
In their first game they defeated Donaldsonville, the state champs from Louisiana, by a score of 3-1. Donaldsonville struck first with their only run in the bottom of the second inning when they scored with two outs as a looping liner went off the glove third baseman Logan Grant.
Bryant tied the score in the top of the fourth when Logan Chambers led off with a double and advanced to third on a single by Nathan McFarland. Cade Dupree lined out to the pitcher and the Donaldsonville pitcher threw unsuccessfully to third in an attempt to double off Chambers, as McFarland broke for second. McFarland was caught in a rundown and tagged out by the first baseman but Chambers dashed home to tie the game at 1-1.
Bryant broke through with two more in the fifth. Grant started the rally with a single, then stole second and scored when Garrett Nguyen smashed a line drive to the fence for triple. With one out, Coby Greiner dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt which allowed Nguyen, who got a great jump off the bag, to score from third when the third baseman retired Greiner at first.
Donaldsonville put together one more threat in the bottom the fifth but catcher Ryan Lessenberry cut down a baserunner attempting to steal second and Chambers ended the inning with a diving play up the middle and then tagged the bag with his glove to force the runner from coming from first.
In the sixth, Bryant retired them 1-2-3 to move to 1-0 in pool play.
In their second game against the Little Rock Rangers, Bryant scored first in the bottom of the second when Grant dropped down a perfect bunt and used his speed to get to first without even drawing a throw. He then came around to score as the next batter, Nguyen, reached first on a throwing error by Little Rock’s shortstop.
The Rangers immediately took the lead in their next at-bat when their first three batters collected two singles and a double. Bryant caught a break when a Little Rock baserunner was not allowed to score from third by rule when a batted ball hit the pitching machine. Bryant then retired the next two batters on a pop fly to shortstop Chambers and a grounder to third baseman Grant to end the inning down only 2-1.
Bryant quickly got the two runs back in the bottom of the frame to lead 3-2. Lessenberry beat out a bunt single and was sacrificed to second by Sawyer Holt and came around to score on a single by Triston Day, who then scored on a single by Chambers.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Rangers regained the lead at 4-3. The inning began with a single to left-center but then Bryant pitcher Cade Dupree snagged a line drive and doubled the baserunner off first, apparently ending the threat. However, the Rangers responded with three straight hits to take the lead.
Once again the Bryant 8s responded quickly, this time with a six-run outburst made up mostly of bunts and miscues by the Rangers. Greiner led off with a single to center. Logan Catton laid down a sacrifice bunt but reached first and advanced all the way to third on a throwing error by the Little Rock catcher, with Greiner scoring in front of him to tie the game at 4-4. Lessenberry then dropped down a bunt and advanced all the way to second as the Little Rock catcher chose not to throw to first base and risk Catton scoring from third on the throw. Holt then bunted and reached first to load the bases when the third baseman faked to first and looked to third in hopes of catching Catton straying too far off the bag. Day followed with a single which scored Catton and left the bases loaded for Chambers who forced Day at second with a ground ball but which also plated Lessenberry and also moved Holt to third. McFarland followed with a ground ball that was thrown away by the Rangers shortstop allowing Holt and Chambers to score and McFarland to advance to second. Dupree followed with a grounder to third but reached safely on an error, allowing McFarland to score the final run of the inning and make the score 9-4.
The Rangers went quietly in the sixth and Bryant advanced to 2-0 in pool play.
Next up for the All-Stars are two pool play games on Saturday, Aug. 1, against Lakewood and Crossett.