BENTON — Nothing like a Bryant-Benton showdown with a[more] lot on the line.
The Saline County rivals wound up finishing the Cal Ripken Southwest Regional Tournament for 9-year-olds at Bernard Holland Park on Saturday, Aug. 6. Bryant ousted Little Rock Junior Deputy in a semifinal, 6-3, in the late afternoon heat to get the shot at a fresh Benton team. Benton, however, turned back Bryant’s bid for the tournament title with a 4-0 win.
The tournament had begun in Hattiesburg, Miss., late last month but due to heavy rains, the final four teams — all from Arkansas — were given the option of finishing up back home and it was agreed, although the other semifinalist Bentonville chose not to make the trip to Benton for Saturday’s games. That gave Benton the bye into the final awaiting the winner of the Bryant-Little Rock game.
Bryant’s 9-year-old All-Stars include Cade Drennan, Jonathan Hall, Hayden Hilson, Rhett James, Colton Kilgore, Tyler LaRue, Braydan Lester, Jake Meaders, Trey McKim, Riley Morales, Shane Small and Gage Stark. Manager Clint Hilson is assisted by Mike Meadors and Bill Drennan.
Benton 4, Bryant 0
Benton’s Peyton Pallette shut out Bryant on just one hit in the championship game. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out 13. Bryant’s lone hit was a lead-off double by McKim in the fifth inning.
McKim had also reached on an error with one out in the second. The only other Bryant baserunners came in the sixth when, with one out, Stark drew a walk and Hilson was hit by a pitch. James made a bid for a hit but his line drive was caught for the second out. Pallette then finished it off with a strikeout.
Benton took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Jaden Woolbright.
In the third, Woolbright drove in two more with a two-out double to make it 3-0. An unearned run in the sixth set the final score.
Bryant 6, LR Junior Deputy 3
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second, Bryant scored two in the home half and gained control of the game with a three-run third.
McKim singled to open Bryant’s second and, with one out, Meaders ripped a double. With two down, LaRue, Stark and Hilson waited out walks.
Drennan reached second on a throwing error to open the third. With one out, Kilgore walked and, after Meaders sacrificed the runners to second and third, a wild pitch allowed Drennan to score. Morales had a hit to set the table for LaRue who smacked a two-run double to make it 5-1.
Hilson, who squelched a Little Rock uprising in relief of Drennan in the second, had worked a 1-2-3 third. In the fourth, a hit, a walk and an error produced a run for Little Rock but Hilson retired the next three with runners at second and third to keep it 5-2. He finished the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
James walked, advanced on a sacrifice by Drennan and scored on wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth to make it 6-2.
After Hilson pitched around a pair of two-out hits in the fifth, Junior Deputy used a hit and a pair of errors to post a final run in the sixth before Hilson ended the game with a strikeout.