Black Sox go a long way to win Illinois tournament
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
ALTON, Ill. — Of the 30 teams that played in the 18th Metro East Tournament of Champions, the Bryant Black Sox AAA squad came the farthest. And, as it turned out, they went the farthest.
Playing eight games in four days on a variety of fields throughout west-central Illinois, playing five in the last two days, the Black Sox overcame derision, weariness and all sorts of adversity to truly earn the tournament championship.
The Sox defeated defending champion O’Fallon, Ill., 12-4, in their third game of the day on Tuesday, July 4, to garner the trophy.
Earlier in the day, Bryant edged Troy, Ill., 9-6, right after knocking off a team from Champaign, Ill., 4-3, in the quarterfinals.
On Monday, the Sox finished pool play with a 15-14 win over host Alton (just east of St. Louis) at one park then traveled to another to begin tournament play with a 12-10 victory over Collinsville, Ill.
On Sunday, the Sox players not only played two games, but they got up early in the morning to help remove the tarp from the main playing field. Later in the day, they edged one of the favorites for the championship, Morton, Ill., 4-3, before suffering their only loss of the tourney, 6-1, to Centralia, Ill.
Bryant had opened play in the event on Saturday with a 13-5 win over Stew Stasbourg, Ill.
All of that and they attended a Major League game in St. Louis on Friday and saw the Cardinals beat the Houston Astros.
“I’ve never had a more gutsy team,” declared manager Craig Harrison. “They just kept on no matter what. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
It was a get-well trip for the Black Sox who, just before heading north, had snapped a four-game losing streak with a 16-1 win over Hot Springs Village. When they left town, they were 12-9. They came back 19-10.
Bryant 12, O’Fallon 4
The defending tourney champs came into the final with a gawdy 19-3 record on the season but wound up getting run-ruled.
Anthony Rose came back after working five-plus innings in Monday’s win over Alton and pitched the full five innings against O’Fallon, scattering eight hits, on Tuesday.
Dustin Morris blasted a grand slam homer to highlight a six-run second that put the Sox on top. Michael McClellan and Rose contributed two hits apiece.
O’Fallon scored an unearned run in the first and held the lead until the Bryant second. Rose led off the inning with a single and, an out later, Cody Graddy was hit by a pitch. With two down, Matt Lewis singled to load the bases for Sean Sebourn who drew an RBI walk to tie the game.
An error then allowed Tad Beene to reach base as Graddy scored. That set up Morris’ blast.
O’Fallon clipped a run off the lead in the third only to have Bryant erupt again in the top of the fourth. Sebourn walked and Beene doubled to right-center. A passed ball brought Sebourn home then, with one down, McClellan singled in Beene to make it 8-2.
A base hit by Rose and a walk to Beau Hamblin loaded the bases. After a pitching change, Graddy fanned but Chris Sory drew an RBI walk and Lewis was hit by a pitch to force in a run.
O’Fallon put together three hits to trim a run off the margin in the bottom of the fourth before Bryant tacked on two in the fifth on walks to Beene and Morris, an RBI groundout by Rose and a fly to left by Hamblin that was misplayed.
A lead-off homer in the bottom of the fifth gave O’Fallon a chance to extend the game by getting the margin under eight. An error and a two-out hit batsman threatened the early conclusion of the contest further. But Rose fanned the next batter to end the game.
Bryant 4, Champaign 3
After a rough outing in Bryant’s only loss of the tournament on Sunday and catching much of the tournament, Beau Hamblin asked for the ball in the semifinal game against a highly-touted Champaign, Ill., team and came through in fine fashion.
Hamblin pitched a shutout for four innings then held off Champaign late, stranding the tying run at second at the end of the game. He allowed just six hits while fanning five and walking two with a pair of hit batsmen.
Rose and Lewis each had two hits for the Black Sox.
With Hamblin stopping Champaign on just two hits over the first four frames, the Sox took a 3-0 lead. They got all of those runs in the third when Lewis led off with a single. Sebourn walked then Beene bunted into a force out at third.
But Morris came through with an RBI double. Beene scored on a sacrifice fly by McClellan and Rose ripped a single up the middle to bring Morris home.
Champaign broke through for two runs on two hits, a walk and an error in the bottom of the fifth. But Hamblin got the last two outs with the tying run left at second.
It stayed 3-2 until the seventh. In the top of the inning, an error allowed Morris to reach base with one out. With two out, he raced all the way home from first on a double by Rose, with what proved to be the decisive run.
Hamblin retired the first two in the bottom of the inning but then surrendered back-to-back doubles to put the lead in jeopardy. But he got the Champaign clean-up hitter to ground out to short to end the game.
Bryant 9, Troy, Ill. 6
Cody Graddy drove in four runs with a pair of homers and Matt Lewis belted a two-run shot — his fourth of the tournament — to lead the Sox to victory in the quarterfinals. A quartet of pitchers battled through the touch Troy lineup with Dustin Morris earning the save by getting the final out with the bases loaded.
Graddy led off the second inning with a solo blast that tied the game at 1.
Pitching by committee, Bryant’s Scott Yant worked the first two innings then gave way to Lewis who pitched into the fifth before being relieved by Chris Sory. After a rough start, Sory took the Sox into the seventh before giving way to Morris for the last batter.
Bryant broke the 1-1 tie in the top of the fourth. With two down, Sory reached on an error and, on a 2-2 delivery, Lewis cranked one over the boards.
After a doubleplay helped Lewis get out of a two-on, no-out situation in the bottom of the inning, the Sox added to their lead. With one out in the fifth, Michael McClellan walked, Anthony Rose singled and Beau Hamblin cracked an RBI double.
After a pitching change, Graddy drilled the second pitch he saw for a three-run dinger to make it 7-1.
Troy rallied for five in the bottom of the inning to keep close. Bryant added some insurance with single runs in the sixth and seventh. In the sixth, Sebourn walked, Beene singled then walks to Morris and McClellan forced in a run.
After Sory worked around a single and an error in the bottom of the sixth, Graddy drew a walk but was forced at second on a grounder to short by Sory. Lewis followed with a base hit and, with two down, Beene singled to make it 9-6.
Sory surrendered a lead-off single in the home seventh but then fanned the next two before issuing a pair of walks that loaded the bags. Morris relieved and got the final out on a grounder to Sory at second.
Collinsville, Ill. 10
The Black Sox had a 10-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning before Collinsville (14-3 coming into the game) rallied to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
Bryant won it in the top of the ninth when Tad Beene scored all the way from first on a long single to right-center by Dustin Morris then an RBI double by Beau Hamblin.
Michael McClellan, the Sox’ third pitcher, worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory.
Bryant cracked 17 hits and Collinsville 15 in a wild contest that thrust the Black Sox into the quarterfinals.
Dustin Morris and Matt Lewis had three hits each.
Brad Chism worked into the seventh inning on the mound for Bryant allowing two runs in the first then holding Collinsville to one more throught six innings.
Bryant took the lead in the second. Graddy and Sory singled, moved up on a passed ball and scored on a single by Lewis, who took second on a late throw home. Sebourn singled to drive in Lewis then Beene reached on an error and Morris single to make it 4-2.
A solo homer by Lewis in the third made it 5-2.
Collinsville scored a run in the fifth. Bryant countered with two runs in the top of the sixth. McClellan’s two-out single chased home Beene and Morris.
In the top of the seventh, the Sox extended the lead further. Cody Graddy doubled in a Hamblin after he had singled. Sory walked and Lewis singled to load the bases and, with two out, Beene singled in a run and Morris walked to force in one.
But Collinsville used seven hits, a walk, a hit batsman and an error to tie it in the bottom of the inning. The bases were loaded with one out, too, when McClellan got out of the jam.
Bryant 15, Alton, Ill. 14
In another extra inning game, the Black Sox scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to extract a victory against the host team. Anthony Rose’s RBI double with one out in the eighth tied the game, then Beau Hamblin’s single won it.
Morris, the fourth Bryant pitcher, earned the victory after relieving in the top of the eighth. He had surrendered the two-out RBI single that snapped a 13-13 tie but got the final out to prevent further damage, stranding runners at second and third.
Bryant’s eighth-inning rally began with a one-out double by Morris and a walk to McClellan.
Rose had three hits in the game for Bryant and Matt Lewis blasted a two-run homer. Rose, Hamblin and Cody Graddy drove in three runs each.
The Sox were under the gun from the outset as Alton scored four times in the first inning and again in the second before Bryant got on the board. In the bottom of the second, Lewis followed a walk to Graddy with his round-trip clout.
Alton made it 6-2 in the top of the third but a walk to Morris, a single by Rose, a double by Hamblin and a single by Graddy trimmed two off the margin in the bottom of the inning.
After Rose worked a 1-2-3 fourth, the Sox took the lead with a four-run uprising instigated by a bunt single from Beene. Morris walked and McClellan was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Rose, who greeted a new Alton pitcher with a two-run single. An out later, Graddy cracked a double to drive in two more, to put Bryant up 8-6.
Both teams had five-run fifths. Bryant’s rally featured six walks and a hit batsman. Morris got an RBI with a sacrifice fly and Chris Sory had the big hit of the inning with a two-run single.
Alton tied it with two runs in the top of the sixth. With the go-ahead run at third, Sory got the final two outs of the inning to keep it tied.
Centralia, Ill., 6,
The Black Sox’ lone loss of the tournament came against one of the least talented teams they played, according to Harrison.
Bryant was limited to five hits and fell behind 4-0 in the first three innings. Scott Yant relieved in the third for the Sox and got out of a bases-loaded jam with a pair of strikeouts but Bryant just couldn’t mount a comeback.
The lone run for the Sox scored in the fourth when Rose socked a one-out double and scored on a single by Hamblin.
Bryant only mustered two baserunners the rest of the way.
Bryant 4, Morton, Ill. 3
In one of the best games of the tournament, Dustin Morris doubled in Tad Beene with the winning run with two-out in the bottom of the seventh to knock off one of the tourney favorites.
“It was probably our best game all year,” Harrison said at the time.
Bryant right-hander Michael McClellan allowed single runs in the second and fifth innings as Morton took a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Chris Sory slapped a two-out single and, on the next pitch, Matt Lewis belted a game-tying home run.
Morton regained the lead with a run in the top of the sixth, but the Sox tied it up again in the home half on a walk by McClellan, a sacrifice from Rose and an RBI double by Hamblin.
McClellan allowed a lead-off single in the top of the seventh then a third-strike bunt attempt went foul on the next hitter for a strikeout. A pop to first and a fly to right ended the inning, setting up Bryant’s game-winning rally.
Lewis led off the bottom of the seventh with a single but courtesy runner Brad Chism was thrown out at second on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Sean Sebourn.
Beene grounded to short and Sebourn was forced at second. But Beene beat out the return throw to first to keep the inning alive for Morris, who delivered the game-winner.
Bryant 13, Stew Strausburg, Ill. 5
The Black Sox opened the tournament with a hint of things to come, blasting out 13 hits and run-ruling Stew Strausburg.
Beau Hamblin smacked three doubles in the game and Michael McClellan drove in three runs.
Brad Chism went the distance on the mound for the win. He had a shutout until the fifth when Stew Strausburg scored all five of its runs to keep from being run-ruled in five innings.
Bryant scored three times in the first. Tad Beene walked, Dustin Morris doubled and McClellan singled in a run. After Anthony Rose drew a walk, Hamblin stroked his first two-bagger to plate two.
In the second, Sean Sebourn and Morris singled to produce a run then McClellan blasted a two-run homer. With two down, Hamblin doubled again and scored on a single by Cody Graddy.
It stayed 7-0 until Stew Strausburg used a pair of errors with three hits to cut the margin to two runs in the top of the fifth.
But, in the bottom of the fifth, Graddy cracked a solo homer. Matt Lewis reached on a third-strike wild pitch then scored on a double by Chris Sory. And when Beene’s bunt single was misplayed, Sory scored.
Chism regained control of the game in the top of the sixth with a 1-2-3 frame. The Sox then put the finishing touches on the win in the bottom of the inning. Hamblin’s third double got the engine running. Graddy was hit by a pitch and, an out later, Sory walked. Sebourn singled in a run, Beene walked to force in another then Morris drew a free pass to send home the game-ending tally.