HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The competition proved to be impressive when the Bryant Athletic Association All-Stars started play at the Cal Ripken 9-year-old Regional Tournament on Thursday, July 13. Though they suffered losses in all four games at the tourney, the experience will no doubt make them better in future years.
The Bryant Stars weren’t handed any favors when they opened pool play against the team that, as it turned out, would eventually win the championship. The Vancleave, Miss., All-Stars gave Bryant a harsh welcome with a 13-1 decision on Thursday.
On Friday, Bryant gave the Petal, Miss. All-Stars all they wanted but came out on the short end of a 10-8 contest. Later in the day, East Central, Miss., got hot late on the way to a 19-2 win over Bryant. In pool play, Bryant took on the north Arkansas State champion Mountain Home Sharks. A 7-4 setback ended their tournament.
The Bryant 9’s included Luke Andrews, Jonathan Carter, Cohen Chalmers, Grant Daves, Kolby Duncan, Dante Hernandez, Colt Martin, Dawson Martin, Mekhi Ray, Barrett Royal, Jake Taylor and Chance Thompson. The team’s manager is Josh Daves. He’s assisted by Chris Chalmers, Ryan Martin and Chris Taylor.
Mountain Home 7, Bryant 4
Dawson Martin and Carter each had two hits for Bryant while Chalmers drove in two runs.
Mountain Home staked out a 4-0 lead in the second. Bryant responded in the top of the third when Carter singled, took second on a passed ball, moved to third on Ray’s grounder to short and scored when Andrews bounced out to third.
The Sharks got that run back in the bottom of the inning and increased the lead to 7-1 after four innings. Neither team scored in the fifth but, in the sixth, Bryant rallied.
Carter singled and advanced to second on Thompson’s sacrifice. Andrews beat out an infield hit to put runners at the corners. Andrews stole second and, with two down, Colt Martin walked. Chalmers plated two runs with a lined single to center.
The bases were loaded again after Daves was plunked by a pitch and Dawson Martin picked up an RBI with an infield hit to make it 7-4.
But Mountain Home finally got the third out to hang on for the victory.
East Central, Miss., 19, Bryant 2
A much closer game than the final indicates. East Central was clinging to a 3-2 lead going into the sixth. But Bryant suffered through a nightmare inning in which the Mississippi team scored 16 runs to blow it up.
East Central took a 1-0 lead in the third then scored two more in the fourth. Bryant whittled the lead to a run in the bottom of the fourth. Taylor led off with a bloop single to left and scored the first run on Colt Martin’s double. A passed ball allowed Martin to get to third and he scored on Chalmers’ groundout to short.
Chalmers, who hadn’t allowed a hit going into the third inning, gave way to Royal with two down in the fourth with the score 3-0. A passed ball allowed a fourth run to score before Royal ended the inning with a strikeout.
Down a run in the fifth, Bryant and Royal worked out of a jam in the top half. A one-out double and an error had runners at first and second. But Royal’s third strikeout calmed things down. The inning ended when Andrews fielded a grounder and threw to Dawson Martin at first for the third out as both runners were stranded.
Carter reached safely on a two-out error in the bottom of the fifth but Bryant was unable to take advantage.
Another miscue undermined Bryant’s effort in the top of the sixth and the floodgates opened.
Petal, Miss. 10, Bryant 8
It was an uphill battle for Bryant after Petal scored seven runs in the top of the first. They came back to cut the margin to 7-6 after three innings then Petal got three more. Again Bryant rallied with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth but could just never get even. The Stars stranded two in the bottom of the fourth and couldn’t cash in on Carter’s lead-off double in the fifth.
Royal had three hits and two RBIs in the game. Dawson Martin and Carter had two hits each.
Down 7-0, Bryant got to work on the initial comeback in the bottom of the opening inning. Andrews and Taylor drew walks then Colt Martin’s grounder to short was booted, loading the bases. With one out, Daves waited out a walk to force in the first run. Dawson Martin did the same then Royal lined one to right for an RBI double. Unfortunately, a good relay by Petal was in time to get Daves at the plate. And Duncan made a bid at an RBI hit as well only to have his liner speared by the Petal pitcher.
In the bottom of the inning, Bryant continued to whittle on the lead. Carter led off with a single to left then Ray drew a walk. After a pitching change, Andrews sacrificed the runners to second and third, then reached base safely himself. When Taylor drew a free pass, it forced in a run.
With the bags still packed, Colt Martin who hit a grounder to short. The shortstop came home with his throw to get a force on Ray. The new Petal pitcher found his rhythm at that point and fanned the next two batters to frustrate Bryant further.
But Petal was retired in order in the third with Colt Martin striking out a pair and catching a pop up.
An out later, Martin scored on a wild pitch as Ray was earning a walk, making it 7-5. Thompson made a bid for an RBI but his grounder to second resulted in a throw to the plate and a force out. A passed ball, however, allowed Duncan to score and the lead was just a run.
With the potential tying run at third and lead run at second, Taylor squared up a pitch only to have the centerfielder track it down for the third out.
A walk, a hit batsman, an error and a single produced two runs for Petal in the top of the fourth. Taylor relieved and struck out the next two batters but another error hurt as a run scored before a grounder to Duncan at short resulted in a force at second to end the inning.
Bryant continued to be resilient in the bottom of the fourth. A Petal error helped as Colt Martin reached base. Chalmers singled to left and, when the ball was misplayed there, Martin was able to score.
With Chalmers at second, Dawson Martin ripped a single to center. Chalmers tried to score but Petal worked an efficient relay to get the tag in time at the plate. Royal, however, doubled in Martin to make it 10-8 before Petal got out of the inning with a grounder to short.
Taylor worked around a one-out walk in the top of the fifth then Carter opened the sixth with his double. Petal retired the next two to get Taylor back to the plate. Again, he drilled the first pitch he saw but his line drive was right at the shortstop ending the game.
Vancleave, Miss. 13, Bryant 1
Bryant’s All-Stars struggled with Vancleave pitching, managing just two hits in the game, singles by Duncan and Dawson Martin. Vancleave’s pitcher walked just one.
With two runs in the second, four in the third and seven in the fourth, the lead grew to 13-0 before Bryant could scratch out a run in the bottom of the fourth.
A two-out error allowed Chalmers to reach base. He advanced to second on a passed ball ahead of Duncan’s single. Andrews’ grounder to short was booted allowing Chalmers to score but it wasn’t enough to prevent the run-rule.