Comeback victories keep Bryant 10s on comeback trail into title round

By Madison McEntire

LEVELLAND, Texas — The Bryant 10-year-old All-Stars staged two late-inning rallies to advance to[more] the championship round of the 2011 Cal Ripken Southwest Regional. In the first game, Bryant broke a 6-6 tie in the last inning and held on to beat Plaquemine, La., by a score of 10-7. They immediately followed that with a heart-stopping 3-2 victory over Tri-County, Texas, in which they score all three runs in their last at-bat.

The pair of victories advanced them to the championship round where they must beat Gulfport, Miss., twice to move on to the Cal Ripken World Series in Winchester, Va. The first game was set to begin at 10 a.m. today with the second game, if necessary, to be played at 12:30 p.m.

Bryant 3, Tri-County, Texas 2

Tri-County batted first and Bryant’s starting pitcher Chambers retired the side 1-2-3 on just seven pitches, getting a bunt grounder that he fielded himself, a grounder to McFarland at first, and a grounder to Greiner at second. In the bottom of the first, Catton led off with a single to center and moved to second on Lessenberry’s sac bunt, but was left there when Chambers struck out and Grant grounded to second.

Chambers retired the side in order again in the second. The first batter hit a hard line drive right at Dupree at third and then Chambers fanned the next two. Bryant threatened in the bottom of the second. With one out, McFarland doubled on a high fly to right that the right fielder lost in the late afternoon sun. Mullings struck out for the second out but then Shepard beat out a single to the hole between third and short for an infield hit as McFarland moved to third on the throw to first. Greiner was next and popped softly to the second baseman to end the inning.

In the top of the third, Chambers remained perfect when he got a grounder to shortstop and two strikeouts. The Tri-County pitcher needed just four pitches in the bottom of the inning to retire Catton, Lessenberry, and Chambers on a liner to first and two grounders to the second baseman. The game was half over and still scoreless.

Tri-County broke through in the top of the fourth. Chambers retired his 10th straight hitter on a pop up to the mound but then allowed a ringing double over Catton’s head in center field. The next batter lined the next pitch up the middle that moved the runner to third as he took second on a threw to the plate. The following batter singled to right-center on a 2-2 pitch and Tri-County led 1-0 with runners on second and third. Chambers got a grounder to McFarland at first for the second out but the runner from third scored to make it 2-0. A grounder to Dupree at third ended the inning.

Bryant threatened immediately but came up short again in the bottom of the fourth. Grant singled to center on the first pitch and Dupree lined a two-strike single to center to put two on. McFarland’s comebacker to the mound forced Grant at third and then Mullings struck out. Bariola, who had entered the game when Shepard tweaked his knee running out his infield hit in the second inning, popped to the shortstop to end the inning.

Chambers allowed just a one-out infield single to third in the fifth inning as he kept the score at 2-0, getting a strikeout and two grounders to first. In the bottom of the frame, Bryant put a runner on with one out when Catton reached on an infield single behind the second base bag. Lessenberry grounded to first with Catton moving into scoring position but he was left there when Chambers grounded to the shortstop.

Grant took over on the mound in the top of the sixth and set Tri-County down on a grounder to first, a strikeout, and a grounder to second. Bryant trailed 2-0 and was down to its last three outs.

Grant led off the bottom of the sixth and smacked the first pitch back up the middle for a single. Dupree walked on five pitches to put the tying run on base. With McFarland up, Tri-County’s manager came out to talk to his pitcher.

Manager Catton called McFarland over and quietly told him, “Hit it out.” McFarland didn’t quite meet his manager’s instructions but he did wait back on a two-strike change-up and hit it off the base of the fence in left-center. Grant scored and Dupree reached third as McFarland stopped at second with a double.

Grant’s run was the first Bryant had scored against Tri-County since their first-inning run in their 11-1 loss on Sunday afternoon.

Tri-County changed pitchers and Clontz came in to run for Dupree at third in hopes that his speed might enable him to score on a wild pitch and tie the game. Mullings struck out for the first out. The left-handed hitting Bariola was up next and swung and missed the first pitch he saw. On the next pitch, he looped a liner into left about 10 feet inside the line. Clontz scored to tie the game and McFarland chugged around third as the ball went off the left fielder’s glove and rolled a few feet. The bobble was just enough for McFarland to beat the high throw to the plate where he was mobbed by his teammates.

Bryant 10, Plaquemine, La. 7

Bryant was the visiting team and struck first with two runs in the first. With one out, Catton singled to center. Chambers hit a hard grounder by the second baseman that went all the way to the gap in right-center allowing Catton to score from first. Chambers reached third on the play. Grant grounded out to second with Chambers scoring on the play and then Dupree grounded to third to end the inning.

Greiner was the starting pitcher for Bryant. Plaquemine rallied in their first at-bat as the first four batters reached on three singles and a walk to make the score 2-1 with nobody out. After a pickoff attempt at third by Bryant’s catcher Lessenberry, the return throw to Greiner on the mound got away and the runner on third came in to score as the others moved up. The next batter grounded back to the mound and the runner on third was caught off base. But he was able to get back safely and the bases were loaded once again.

Greiner got the first out on a grounder to McFarland at first but the runner on third scored on the play. Then Dupree fielded a grounder and held the runner before firing to first for the second out. With two runners in scoring position, Dupree muffed a grounder at third to let a run in and then Greiner walked the number nine batter to reload the bases. McEntire entered in relief of Greiner and struck out the leadoff batter on four pitches to keep Bryant’s deficit at 4-2.

In the top of the second, Bryant shortstop Chambers became sick and was removed with Bariola entering the game in his spot in the order. With one out, McFarland doubled to deep left and moved up to third on Mullings’ single. Greiner, who had stayed in the game, laid down a bunt and beat it out for a single with McFarland scoring from third on the play and Mullings moving to second. McEntire, who had been inserted in Shepard’s spot, walked to load the bases. Bryant’s threat ended quickly as Catton lined right at the first baseman and McEntire was doubled off first to end the inning. Plaquemine’s lead was now 3-2.

In the bottom of the second, McEntire got two quick outs on a strikeout and a grounder off his glove that Grant recovered and fired to first. Plaquemine put a runner on with a solid single to center but another strikeout ended the frame.

Bryant took a 5-4 lead in their third at-bat. Bariola led off with a walk. Grant bounced a single up the middle to put two on. After a wild pitch moved the runners up, Dupree ripped a hard double to left to score both runners. Bryant’s threat was again snuffed out on a double play as Lessenberry grounded out to third and Dupree was nailed trying for third on the throw across the diamond from the first baseman. McFarland flied out to deep left to end the inning.

In the bottom of the third, McEntire fanned the first batter but then gave up a soft liner to center for a single. A grounder to Dupree at third was the second out with the runner moving up to second. A grounder to Grant at short ended the inning and sent the game to the fourth with Bryant up 5-4.

Bryant tacked on another run in the fourth. Mullings led off with a walk and Greiner struck out. McEntire dumped a single into left, moving Mullings to second. Catton dropped a soft fly into center but McEntire did not get a good jump and was forced out at second on a strong throw by the right fielder. Mullings moved to third on the play. With Bariola at the plate, Mullings scooted home on a wild pitch and then Bariola struck out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Plaquemine plated two to tie the game. McEntire got the first batter to ground back to the mound for an out. A single to right on a 1-2 pitch put a runner on. After the next batter fouled off three consecutive pitches, McEntire finally threw one by him for the second out. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases and then McEntire fumbled a chopper to the right of the mound as a runner scored. The next batter singled to left to tie the game and leave the bases loaded. Grant came in to pitch and got a grounder right at the third base bag. Dupree momentarily fumbled it but was able to control the ball and reach back with his foot and find the bag to end the inning.

With one out in the fifth, Dupree walked and Jackson ran for him. Lessenberry grounded back to the pitcher who could not handle it and both runners were safe. But McFarland and Mullings struck out to end the threat. In their half of the inning, Grant got two strikeouts and a grounder back to the mound to send the game to the last inning with the score tied.

In the top of the sixth, Clontz hit for Greiner and drew a walk. Shepard, reentered for McEntire, and dropped down a bunt. He was thrown out on a very close play at first but Clontz moved to second and then streaked all the way to third when he saw that the third baseman had failed to retreat to the bag. With Catton at the plate, the Plaquemine pitcher threw a wild pitch and Clontz sped home, slid headfirst and beat the tag to give Bryant the lead.

Catton then walked and Chambers, recovered from his sickness, lined to shortstop for the second out. Grant hit a sharp grounder on the all-dirt infield that scooted by the shortstop and rolled all the way into the gap. Catton scored from first and Grant ended up on second. Dupree, who had reentered for Jackson, drew a walk to put two on. With Leseenberry at the plate, a wild pitch moved the runners up and then another wild pitch allowed Catton to score and Dupree to go to third. Lessenberry walked to put runners on the corners. After Plaquemine changed pitchers, McFarland lofted a long fly to the centerfielder who misplayed it, allowing Dupree to score and Lessenberry to get to second base. Mullings struck out to end the inning but Bryant led 10-6.

Grant retired the first batter in the bottom of the inning on a grounder to Chambers at shortstop but then allowed a single on a soft liner to right. The next batter was a pinch-hitter for Plaquemine and he lined a shot into the gap in right-center. The runner from first scored on the play but the batter tried for third and was throw out on a relay from Shepard to Greiner to Dupree for the second out of the inning. Grant then struck out the next batter swinging to end the game.

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