Bryant captures Area I Junior Legion tourney title

MAUMELLE — The Bryant Black Sox finish off an undefeated run through the Area I Junior American Legion tournament on Tuesday night with a 12-2 romp over the Little Rock Diamondbacks. Both teams will advance to the Junior Legion State Tournament in Conway starting this weekend.

Bryant had knocked Little Rock into the losers’ bracket on Monday, prevailing 8-7. The Diamondbacks played again on Monday night and beat Fort Smith to get the rematch and earn the second State bid.

Out of pitching, however, they were unable to hold down the Sox, who racked up 11 hits to take advantage of 11 walks and two errors.

Lawson Speer was 3 for 5 for Bryant. J.T. Parker and Will Hathcote each had two hits. Hathcote and Ryan Riggs drove in two apiece.

On the mound, Blaine Sears and Josh Turner combined to limit the Diamondbacks to two runs (one earned) on five hits.

Joining Bryant and Little Rock at State will be Jacksonville and Mountain Home from Area 2, Brinkley and Benton Sportshop from Area 3 and Texarkana and the Sheridan Swarm from Area 4.

Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Little Rock. Sears singled with one out, Noah Davis walked, and Riggs lined a base hit to center to plate the run.

The Sox had turned a doubleplay to help Sears work around a one-out single in the top of the first. In the second, a lead-off walk was erased as Riggs, the Bryant catcher, threw out the runner trying to steal second.

Despite a single by Aaron Morgan and walks to Clay and Sears, the Sox were unable to add to their lead in the bottom of the second but that proved to be the only inning in which they did not score.

After Sears and the Bryant defense retired the D’Backs in order in the top of the third, Riggs started a four-run uprising in the home half with a walk. A pair of passed balls allowed Riggs to reach third as Parker drew a free pass. After Parker stole second, Hathcote doubled to make it 2-0.

Morgan followed with a grounder to third that resulted in Parker being thrown out at the plate on the fielder’s choice. But Turner worked a walk to load the bases for Clay, who grounded into force at third but Hathcote scored to make it 3-0.

Speer lined an RBI single to left then Clay scored on an error to make it 5-0.

The Diamondbacks used a walk, two singles and another walk to get on the board in the top of the fourth. But the Sox tacked on three in the bottom of the inning.

Davis walked and, after a pitching change, stole second. With one out, he swiped third then scored on Parker’s triple. A triple by Hathcote made it 7-1. Turner singled in the eighth tally.

Turner relieved and retired Little Rock in order in the top of the fifth.

In turn, Bryant continued to add on. Speer tripled, Sears walked, and Davis picked up an RBI with a groundout to short. Sears scored on a sacrifice fly by Riggs.

With a hit batsman, a single and an error, the Diamondbacks managed a second run in the top of the sixth, but the Sox walked it off with a run-rule win in the bottom half.

Turner walked but was forced at second on Clay’s grounder to third. After Clay took second on a wild pitch, Speer singled then stole second. Clay scored on Sears’ groundout then Speer capped off the victory by racing home on a wild pitch.

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