COLUMBIA, Tenn. — As was the case at the Battle of Omaha in June, the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team[more] played deep into the 2012 Independence Day Classic then lost a heartbreaker before they could get to the championship game.
This time, the end came in their second extra-inning game of a long day. Dothan, Ala., scored a run in the sixth to forge an 8-8 tie then won it with a run in the bottom of the eighth on an error and four walks. The game-winner came just moments after the Sox had caught a runner trying to score on a pitch in the dirt. It was the second out of the inning. But the winning run came in when a 3-2 pitch to the next batter didn’t go Bryant’s way.
It was just the third loss in 23 games this season for the Black Sox who are scheduled to return to Bryant and host Sylvan Hills on Monday night.
The strike zone wasn’t good for the Sox. After issuing a combined four walks in their previous three games, Bryant pitchers allowed seven against Dothan.
Early on, the Sox held 5-2 and 8-3 leads. Dothan rallied for four runs in the fourth then tied it in the sixth. After a three-run fourth, the Sox were unable to dent the plate the rest of the way.
The Sox had played 11 innings earlier in the day to defeat Vero Beach, Fla., setting up the quarterfinal game with Dothan.
Hunter Mayall, who had three hits in the game for Bryant, opened the game with a single. Tyler Brown sacrificed him to second then Jordan Taylor singled to drive him home.
Taylor, the Bryant starter, retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning but Dothan’s Lake Genard set down the Sox in the top of the second and the Alabama team garnered a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom half.
An error allowed the lead-off man to reach ahead of a home run to left by Kyle Husum.
Bryant answered with a four-run third. Ozzie Hurt walked, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Mayall. Brown singled but Mayall was thrown out trying to steal second. Brown moved up on the play, though, and that allowed Taylor to reach on a third-strike wild pitch. Pickett singled in Brown and, after Nelson beat out an infield hit, Josh Pultro stroked an RBI single to right. And when Pickett tagged and scored on a sacrifice fly by Zach Graddy, Bryant had a 5-2 lead.
Cody Trusty singled to start Dothan’s half of the inning. Taylor retired the next two but, on a 3-2 pitch, Jalin Lawson drew a walk. Nick McLaughlin’s single to left made it 5-3.
Bryant’s fourth-inning uprising began with one-out walks to Mayall, Brown and Taylor to load the bags for Pickett, who lined a single to center to plate two. Hayden Daniel, running for Taylor scored the third run of the inning when Tyler Nelson got a squeeze bunt down.
Though Pultro singled, he and Pickett were stranded.
Dothan’s fourth was instigated by an error that allowed Payne Palmer to reach base. Jacob Malkoff singled. A force at second put runners at the corners for Cody Trusty who singled in a run. Landonis Bryant followed with a two-run triple. Caleb Morris doubled him home but Taylor ended it there, forcing Morris to be stranded when he struck out Lawson and got McLaughlin to line out to short.
The Sox failed to score in the top of the fifth despite a lead-off single by Marcus Wilson and a two-out triple by Mayall. Wilson, trying to sneak into second on a foul pop to the catcher, was thrown out for a doubleplay ahead of Mayall’s hit.
Taylor retired the first two in the sixth but a walk to Bryant, a single by Morris and a passed ball produced the tying run.
The Sox went down in order in the top of the seventh and, in the bottom of the inning Taylor, worked out of a jam forcing Dothan to strand a runner at third.
After the Sox were set down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, Pickett took over on the mound for the home half. Trusty reached on an error and advanced to second when Bryant grounded out. An intentional walk was issued to Morris then an unintentional pass was given to Lawson.
Brown relieved for the Sox and Trusty was caught trying to score on the wild pitch. But McLaughlin walked to load the bags again for Husum who worked the count to 3-2 before getting the game-winning walk.