Bryant Seniors capture championship of Southwest Illinois Firecracker Classic

ALTON, Ill. — Word is that when Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion pitcher Tryce Schalchlin[more] came into the dugout after surrendering three runs in the opening inning of the championship game of the Firecracker Classic, he told his teammates something like, “If you get me the lead, I’ll make it stand up.”

Well, it took the Sox until the fourth inning to even get a runner on base against Jefferson City, Mo., starter Nolan Bax but when they finally did, they put together a five-run inning that, sure enough, Schalchlin preserved the lead, shutting out Jeff City until the seventh when they managed another run.

In the meantime, Bryant added on and came away with an 8-4 win to capture the Classic championship.

After winning 3 of 4 games in pool play, the Sox ousted North Little Rock 6-1 on Sunday to advance to the championship game. Jeff City, which came into the tournament with just one loss on the season, advanced past the host Alton team.

Bryant improved to 25-3-1 going into Tuesday’s doubleheader against Pine Bluff Simmons First Bank at Bryant High School Field.

Schalchlin retired 16 of 18 batters through the sixth inning. He wound up allowing eight hits without a walk. He fanned four.

Offensively, Trevor Ezell, Hayden Daniel and Chase Tucker each had two hits in the game. The Sox’ first baserunner was Ozzie Hurt, who reached on an error with one out in the fourth. Marcus Wilson drew a walk and, with two away, Tyler Nelson belted a single to drive in the first run. Wilson dashed to third and Nelson picked up second on the late throw to the plate. Daniel’s bunt single got Wilson home then he stole second. Tucker cracked a ground-rule double to bring round the tying and go-ahead runs.

Tucker stole third and Drew Tipton reached on a walk. Tipton left first early and got into a rundown, staying alive until Tucker could sprint home with the fifth run of the inning.

The Sox added on in the fifth and sixth. Ezell led off the fifth with a single to left. Wilson sacrificed him to second then he stole third. Hayden Lessenberry’s single up the middle made it 6-3.

Daniel’s base hit ignited a two-run sixth. He swiped second and scored when Tucker’s bunt single was followed by a wild throw to first. With two down, Ezell socked a single to center to make it 8-3.

Jefferson City had cracked four hits to produce three runs in the opening inning but then Schachlin put the shackles to the Missouri team’s wood bats. He pitched around a two-out single in the third then retired nine in a row before a two-out single in the sixth.

In the seventh, a single, a passed ball and a pair of groundouts got a run in for Jeff City. An error kept the inning going and a single followed but the Bryant right-hander got the final out on a grounder to Ezell at third.

Bryant 6, North Little Rock 1

Nelson allowed just one unearned run over six innings, scattering eight hits while walking one and striking out eight. Harrison Dale relieved in the seventh and issued a lead-off walk but the Sox turned a doubleplay and Dale ended it with a strikeout.

At the plate, Bryant jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first two frames. After North Little Rock scratched out its run in the fourth, the Sox countered with two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth.

The Sox were led by the keystone combination of Ozzie Hurt and Korey Thompson who combined to go 7 for 7 in the game. Tucker and Ezell added two hits apiece.

Hurt smacked his first hit with one out in the opening frame. Wilson and Daniel singled and when the ball got away from the right fielder, Hurt scored.

Nelson walked to load the bases and, with two down, Tucker came through with an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Nelson had worked around a two-out double in the top of the inning, fanning University of Arkansas signee Alex Gosser to end the frame.
Nelson surrendered a pair of singles in the second but both runners were stranded. North Little Rock went down in order in the third.

Thompson initiated the second-inning uprising for the Sox with a solid single to left. Ezell chased him home with a shot to center for a triple. Hurt got a squeeze bunt down and beat it out for an RBI single.

In the top of the fourth, a single and an error had a pair of North Little Rock runners on with no one out. But Nelson picked off the runner at second and followed up with a strikeout. A base hit and a walk loaded the bases and a single from the nine-hole hitter got the run home. A liner to Hurt at short ended the inning, however, and Bryant retained a 4-1 lead.

Daniel walked to start the Sox’ answering uprising in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Cody Gogus was hit by a pitch. Thompson beat out a bunt for a hit that loaded the bags for Ezell. He picked up an RBI when he grounded into a force at second but beat the relay to first to avoid the inning-ending doubleplay.

Hurt’s fourth hit followed, bringing Gogus in to make it 6-1.

A single in the fifth and a double in the sixth came to naught for North Little Rock as Nelson and Dale closed out the victory.

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