LEVELLAND, Texas — In a wild game, the Bryant All-Stars trailed the Tri-County, Texas, All-Stars, 7-5, after four innings as they contended for a berth in the championship round of the Babe Ruth Regional Tournament for 14-year-old teams. But Bryant erupted for eight runs in the top of the fifth to break the game open and outlast Tri-County 17-13 on Sunday, moving a win away from advancing to the Babe Ruth World Series in Moses Lake, Wash., starting Aug. 17.
As the lone remaining unbeaten team in the tournament, Bryant advances to the title round at 7 p.m., on Monday night when they’ll face the survivor of the losers bracket final between Siloam Springs and Tri-County. Those two teams meet prior to the game with Bryant.
The Bryant team is managed by Jerry East. The players are Logan Allen, Drew Brown, Cameron Coleman, Jake East, Lawson Fincher, Jeffrey Hastings, Dylan Hurt, Austin Kelly, Hayden Knowles, Preston Kyzer, Garrett Misenheimer, Aaron Orender, Kyle Sahr, Alex Shurtleff and Diego Vargas.
The game-turning eruption began with a single to center by Kelly and a base hit to right by Coleman. Allen followed with a bouncer to third but when Tri-County tried to get a force at second, the throw was mishandled and Kelly wound up scoring. Hastings grounded out to second to move the runners to second and third then East’s fly to right was misplayed allowing Coleman to score the tying run.
A squeeze bunt by Orender not only got Allen home with the go-ahead tally but wound up going for a hit. Shurtleff was plunked by a 2-1 pitch then Misenheimer drilled a double to drive in Orender.
With Shurtleff at third, Hurt got a bunt down that was misplayed by the pitcher as Shurtleff scored. That brought Kelly back up and another bunt squeezed in Misenheimer. And when Hurt scored on a passed ball, it was suddenly 13-7.
Shurtleff, who had relieved East to get out of the four-run second, had limited Tri-County to one unearned run in the fourth. After Bryant took the lead in the top of the fifth, he pitched around a one-out hit batsman to get Bryant back to the plate.
By tacking on three more runs in the top of the sixth, Bryant took control of the game. The inning started with a walk to Allen but Hastings tapped into a force. East beat out an infield hit and Orender was hit by a pitch. And when Shurtleff was struck again, it forced in a run.
Misenheimer’s grounder to short resulted in a force at home as East was retired but Hurt walked and Kelly was hit by a pitch to force in a run apiece, making it 16-7.
Shurtleff struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth around a two-out single and a walk. In the seventh, Bryant tacked on a run when Allen singled, stole second, too third when Hastings’ grounder was booted and scored on Orender’s sacrifice fly.
Misenheimer took over on the mound in the seventh for Bryant and retired the first two he faced but then he, and later Kelly, struggled to get the final out as Tri-County pushed home six runs to get within four before, with two aboard, a groundout to short ended the game.
Tri-County scored the game’s first two runs in the opening frame. Bryant countered with a four-run second. Hurt led off the uprising with a walk. He scored all the way from first on Kelly’s drive to right-center for an RBI double. Coleman beat out an infield hit then Allen got the squeeze bunt down to bring in the tying run.
The runners moved to second and third when Hastings bounced to first. East followed with an RBI double to make it 3-2. Orender’s squeeze bunt scored Allen to make it two-run lead.
But Tri-County strung together four two-out hits including a double to answer with four of its own in the bottom of the inning, regaining a two-run edge.
Misenheimer doubled to the fence in right to lead off Bryant’s third. He advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Kelly’s sacrifice fly to make it 6-5.
Tri-County got its seventh run in the bottom of the fourth, aided by an error. That set the stage for Bryant’s game-winning outburst.