By Madison McEntire
The Bryant 9-year-old All-stars opened the 2010 district tournament on Friday, June 25, with a hard-fought 14-9 win against rival Benton at Bryant’s Ashley Park. They used good defense, aggressive baserunning and timely hitting to overcome a hard-hitting Benton squad.
The Bryant 9-year-old All-Star team members are Logan Chambers, Logan Grant, Nathan McFarland, Ryan Lessenberry, Cade Dupree, Coby Greiner, Logan Catton, Jake Cowell, Will McEntire, Sawyer Holt, Garett Nguyen, Hunter Mullings, and Chandler Taylor. The team is managed by Michael Catton with help from coaches Phillip Dupree and Madison McEntire.[more]
Benton jumped out to an early lead as the first three batters of the game reached base against starter Chambers on a walk and two singles and each came around to score before he ended the frame with a grounder to second and a strikeout.
Bryant immediately got two of the runs back in the bottom of the first. Chambers doubled on a fly over the left fielder’s head. McFarland popped to the pitcher who lost the ball in the sun. The ball bounced off his glove into foul territory, allowing Chambers to take third and McFarland to advance to second.
With Cowell batting, Chambers scored on a wild pitch and McFarland moved to third. After Cowell walked, he started for second on the first pitch to Dupree and drew a throw which allowed McFarland to score from third.
Bryant held Benton scoreless in the top of the second and then tied the game in the bottom half. Greiner led off with a walk, took second on a wild pitch, and moved to third on McEntire’s ground out to first base. Grant walked and then sprinted around the bag toward second, drawing a throw from the pitcher which allowed Greiner to cross the plate.
In the top of the third, Benton’s bats came to life as they batted around and took a 7-3 lead. The first batter doubled and then scored on a single. The next batter reached when Greiner couldn’t handle a grounder at second and then a walk loaded the bases. The next batter singled in a run with a line drive to center.
Benton’s eighth place hitter then hit a sacrifice fly to right field with the runner from third narrowly beating McEntire’s throw to the plate. The next batter produced the same result; a sac fly to right with the runner just beating the throw home. Catton ended the inning by hauling in a long drive to center off the bat of Benton’s leadoff batter.
Bryant narrowed the lead to 7-5 in the bottom of the third. Chambers singled on a grounder to the shortstop and took second on a wild pitch. McFarland grounded to the shortstop, but reached on a fielder’s choice when the shortstop tried unsuccessfully to throw out Chambers as he advanced to third base.
Chambers later scored on a wild pitch and McFarland was driven home when Lessenberry dribbled a soft single up the third baseline that was fielded by the pitcher.
Benton answered quickly and stretched the lead back to four runs at 9-5 by getting back-to-back doubles to start the fourth, with the second batter scoring on a ground out to Chambers at shortstop.
In the bottom of the fourth, Bryant finally took their first lead as they batted ten players and scored the maximum of six runs. McEntire led off and reached safely when his grounder went off the glove of the first baseman for an error. Taylor pinch-ran for him and advanced to third on two wild pitches with Grant at the plate. Grant reached on a walk and then Catton grounded a single to left that scored Taylor and sent Grant to second.
After both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, Chambers singled on a ball to the third baseman, with Grant scoring and Catton going to third. McFarland was hit by a pitch to load the bases and then Cowell walked to force in Catton from third. After Dupree struck out, Lessenberry hit a grounder to the second baseman, who forced Chambers out at the plate.
With the bases still full, Greiner singled on a grounder up the third base line that was fielded by the pitcher. McFarland scored from third and Cowell came around to score from second when the Benton pitcher threw wildly to first. McEntire was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and then Lessenberry scampered home on a wild pitch to cap the scoring and give Bryant an 11-9 lead.
In the fifth inning, Grant, who came in to pitch in the top of the third, retired the Benton hitters in order. Bryant loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning as Grant walked, Catton reached on an error by the third baseman, and Chambers singled to left. McFarland drew a walk to score Grant.
After Cowell’s grounder to the pitcher forced out Catton at the plate, Dupree coaxed a walk to score Chambers. With Lessenberrry batting, a wild pitch scored McFarland to make the score 14-9 and that was how the contest ended when the clock expired two batters later with Greiner at the plate.
The Bryant 9’s will take on the winner of the Hot Springs – Hot Spring Village game on Sunday, June 27, in the finals of the winner’s bracket. Game time is 2:00 p.m. at Ashley Park in Bryant.
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