The never-say-die Bryant Black Sox 15U baseball team put together two incredible comebacks in the championship round of the Babe Ruth South State tournament at Bishop Park on Tuesday night.
The first one resulted in a 9-8 win over the White Hall All-Stars, who were previously unbeaten in the tourney and led 8-4 going into the seventh, forcing a final championship game (the “if” game).
The second one took it right down to the wire nearly erasing a 10-4 deficit and, even after White Hall increased a 10-9 lead to 13-9 going into the seventh, only to come up a couple of runs short.
White Hall held on for a 13-11 win to capture the South State title. But, because White Hall will be the host team for the Southwest Regional in Pine Bluff, Bryant will also advance to the Regional, which starks on Thursday, July 19.
The 15’s, coached by Jerry East, include J.T. Parker, Caleb Greiner, Gavin Burton, Connor Martin, Drew Hatman, Calvin Myles, Colby Morrow, Braxton Prather, Jaxon Ham, Cade Parker, Logan White, Dylan Jones, Hayden Thompson and Kyler Pabon.
Bryant 9, White Hall 8
The game was tied 4-4 going into the seventh inning when White Hall struck for four runs to take the 8-4 lead. Down to their last three outs, the Black Sox rallied to tie the game, stranding the winning run at second in the bottom of the seventh.
In the eighth, Ham pitched around an error to start the inning. The Sox were then down to their last out in the bottom of the eighth when consecutive singles by White, Pabon and Burton produced the walk-off victory.
White finished with three hits. Morrow and Parker had two each. Ham helped out with three runs batted in.
Thompson pitched six innings before giving way to Ham.
White Hall took a 2-0 lead in the first. The first three batters of the game walked. After a force out at home, both runs scored when a grounder to short resulted in a force at second. A hit batsman and another walk loaded the bases, but the Sox escaped further damage when the next batter flew out to Hatman in right.
Bryant was set down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first and White Hall tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the second.
The Sox got on the board in the home second. With one out, Parker drew a walk and Thompson drilled a double. Ham grounded out as Parker scored to make it 4-1.
Thompson settled in and retired White Hall in order in the top of the third then pitched around a two-out single in the fourth.
Burton reached on an error to start the Bryant fourth. Morrow lined a single to center and, after a balk put runners at second and third, Parker blooped a single to right to make it 4-2. But they could get no more and wound up stranding three.
It went to the sixth. White Hall threatened to get more after a hit batsman and an error had a runner at third with one out. A comebacker to Thompson resulted in the runner at third getting in a rundown. He was eventually tagged out.
A walk put two aboard then a single to center resulted in White throwing out the lead runner when he tried to score, ending the threat.
Bryant tied it in the home sixth. With two down, Thompson reached on an error and, after a pitching change, Ham doubled him in. Hatman and Greiner drew walks then a wild pitch allowed Ham to score the tying run.
But a double, a single, an error and another base hit gave White Hall a 6-4 lead in the top of the seventh. Another error allowed the seventh run to score before an RBI single made it 8-4.
White led off the bottom of the seventh with a single. Pabon walked and Burton was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Morrow, who delivered a two-run single to left.
Parker lined a base hit to right to fill the sacks again then Thompson picked up an RBI when he grounded into a force at second. Ham’s grounder to short resulted in a force at second but when Ham beat the relay to first to avoid the game-ending doubleplay, Morrow scored the tying run and it went to extra innings, setting up the walk-off win and one more game.
White Hall 13, Bryant 11
Bryant led 4-1 going into the bottom of the fourth. That’s when White Hall took advantage of four Bryant errors, a hit batsman and a walk with five hits to score nine times.
But the demoralizing inning did not get the Sox down. In the top of the sixth, they whittled the lead down to 10-9.
Another error, a single, a triple and a sacrifice fly allowed White Hall to bump it to 13-9. Again, the Sox rallied and, down 13-11, they had the potential tying runs on second and third when the final out was recorded.
Again, White had three hits. Morrow, Ham, J.T. Parker and Greiner each had two. Morrow drove in three, Ham and J.T. Parker knocked in two apiece.
Bryant took a 3-0 lead in the opening at-bat. White singled then Pabon and Burton drew free passes. With one out, a wild pitch allowed White to score. With two out, Ham delivered a two-run double.
Cade Parker started on the mound for Bryant and worked around a two-out single in the bottom of the first. White Hall managed a run on a two-out double in the bottom of the second, but the Sox got that back in the top of the third when Burton walked, stole second and scored on Morrow’s single to center.
Cade Parker was hit by a pitch and, with one out, Thompson walked to load the bases, but White Hall escaped further damage.
After White Hall’s nine-run fourth, neither team scored in the fifth. Bryant’s sixth-inning rally began with a one-out single by Hatman. J.T. Parker tripled to make it 10-5. Parker had to hold when Greiner’s pop to center fell in but White’s hit to right got him home.
A walk to Pabon filled the bases. Greiner scored on a wild pitch and, after a pitching change, Burton walked again. Martin came on as a courtesy runner for the Sox catcher before Morrow singled to left, driving in two to make it 10-9.
With the potential tying and go-ahead runs at first and second, White Hall turned a doubleplay to retain the lead.
The three-run home sixth extended the advantage. Bryant’s final comeback started with a lead-off single by Ham. He advanced to second on Thompson’s groundout and remained there with two out. But J.T. Parker singled him home then Greiner ripped a double to right to make it 13-11.
White singled Greiner to third then stole second but a strikeout ended the game.