COLUMBIA, Tenn. — It was a comeback kind of day for the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team Friday at[more] the 2012 Independence Day Classic as they extracted a pair of wins to complete a three-game sweep of pool play.
In their first game of the day, the Sox trailed 4-0 through five innings but scored five times in the sixth and added a run in the seventh to pull out a 6-4 win over Post 131 of Columbiana, Ala. They followed that up against Shelbyville, Tenn., who they trailed 3-2 going into the sixth inning. This time, the Sox rallied for nine runs to not only take the lead but set up a run-rule win, 11-3.
As the top seed from Pool 6, the Sox, now 19-2 overall this season, were set to begin bracket play Saturday at 2:30 p.m., against the runner-up from Pool 7, which included Vero Beach, Fla., Gonzales, La., and a team from the Hit After Hit Baseball Academy in Nashville, Tenn.
Bryant 6, Columbiana, Ala., 4
Right-hander Tyler Nelson went the distance on the mound but struggled a bit early as Columbiana. The Sox were retired in order in the top of the first by starter Dustin Cowart. To start the bottom of the inning, lead-off man Michael Schofield belted a home run.
Nelson worked around a one-out walk to keep it 1-0 and the Sox made some noise in the second but came up empty. Josh Pultro and Hayden Lessenberry smacked two-out singles then Hayden Daniel reached on an error.
Columbiana added two more runs on three hits and a pair of groundouts.
Neither team did much in the third. The top of the fourth brought Pultro and Lessenberry back to the plate. This time both walked and Daniel singled to fill the bags with two down. Again, however, Bryant was denied.
A single by Tyler Jackson started Columbiana’s fourth. He stole second as Nelson struck out Matt Collier. And, after a passed ball, Jackson scored on a single by Matt Haskins to make it 4-0.
After a scoreless fifth, Bryant’s game-turning rally began with a walk to Nelson. Cowart struck out the next two but Daniel kept the inning alive by lining a single to left. With Marcus Wilson in to run for Nelson, Ozzie Hurt walked to load the bases for Hunter Mayall, who lashed a two-run single to left to get the Sox on the board.
A wild pitch moved runners to second and third before Brown ripped an RBI single and when the ball was misplayed in right, Mayall came in to tie the game 4-4. Brown, who went all the way to third on the play, scored the go-ahead run on a double by Jordan Taylor.
Jackson reached on a one-out error in the bottom of the sixth but Lessenberry gunned him down when he tried to steal and Nelson got Collier to tap out to second to end the inning.
The Sox added some padding in the top of the seventh when Nelson drew a walk, Pultro bounced into a force, moved up on a groundout by Lessenberry and scored when Daniel burned the center fielder for an RBI triple.
Nelson hit Haskins with a pitch to start the bottom of the seventh but he struck out Schofield, got Nick Foster to foul out to Pultro down the right-field line and ended the game on a fly to Daniel in center off the bat of Austin Drummonds.
Daniels, on a hot streak of late, finished with three of Bryant’s eight hits in the game.
Bryant 11, Shelbyville, Tenn., 3
Landon Pickett drove in three runs and, along with Taylor and Brown had two hits to lead the Sox to victory against the defending Tennessee State champs from Post 23.
Hurt dueled with Shelbyville’s Austin Williams over the first five innings. After the Sox’ nine-run eruption in the sixth, Tryce Schalchlin worked a scoreless frame to close out the win.
Shelbyville snapped a 2-2 tie with a run in the fourth and the edge held until that fateful sixth. Taylor ignited the rally when he shot a double to left. Pickett traded places with him, pulling a grounder inside the bag at third for a game-tying double.
Nelson singled and Pultro was hit by a pitch to load the bases then Williams issued a walk to Zach Graddy to force in a run that put Bryant ahead 4-3. Daniel broke the inning open with a two-run single to left. Wilson beat out a bunt hit to load the bases and, with one out, Brown grounded a single into left to plate two more.
With two down, Pickett knocked in Wilson with a single. Brown scored when Nelson reached on an error. Pultro finished off the blitz with an RBI single to left.
Schalchlin surrendered a lead-off single to Johnathan Pearson but, after Chris Kleeman skied out to Pultro in right, Sean Davis hit a sharp grounder to Brown at third. He started a ‘round-the-horn doubleplay to end the game.
The Sox had established a 2-0 lead in the first on singles by Mayall, Brown and Taylor. Pickett grounded into a force at second as Brown scored and it was 2-0.
Shelbyville tied it in the second on a two-out, two-run jack by David Pearson after Kleeman had singled. In the fourth, Pearson led off with a single but was forced on a grounder back to the mound by Davis. With two down, Johnathan Pearson kept the inning alive with a single. A base hit by J.D. Parker drove in the tiebreaking run.