By Rob Patrick
HOT SPRINGS — The Everett Black Sox got what they wanted in the losers bracket final of the[more] Zone 4 Junior American Legion District Tournament at Lakeside High School Monday. After clinching a bid to the Junior State tourney in Cabot with an 18-0 win over Lakeside, the watched as Texarkana defeated the Little Rock Cobras, 5-3, in the winners bracket final, giving the Sox another shot at the Cobras.
The Little Rock team had planted the first blemish on the Bryant team’s record on Sunday with a 6-2 win in the second round of the District. The Sox had won 23 in a row this season.
In the rematch, the Sox fell behind 3-1 in the first inning but Devin Dupree stepped up in relief on the mound and shut out the Cobras the rest of the game while, at the plate, Bryant scored in every inning but the fifth on the way to an 11-3 win.
The Cobras will be the Zone’s number three seed at State and, on Tuesday, Bryant and Texarkana will battle for the Zone title and its top seed for State. As the lone remaining unbeaten team, Texarkana will need to be defeated twice by the Sox to be denied the tournament crown.
During the regular season, Texarkana was involved in three of Bryant’s 23 wins but two of the games were tight. The Sox won 5-2 on May 26, during their run to the championship of the Ryan White Memorial Tournament at Lakeside. In a July 8 doubleheader at Bryant, the Sox prevailed with a thrilling comeback, 9-8, then dismissed a demoralized Razorback team, 10-0.
“The pitching’s set up,” said Sox manager Tyler Brown. “We’ve got all the pitching we need to win a championship tomorrow. That’s what we’re going for. Evan Lee’s on the mound first. He’s going to give us everything he has and we’ll go on to the next guy and he’s going to give us everything he has.”
Lee started and pitched two innings of the Sox win over Lakeside Monday afternoon. He threw 35 pitches.
In the 12 innings of the two games on Monday, Bryant scored in 11, bouncing back from Sunday’s unprecedented four-run output in two games.
“The intensity was awesome,” Brown stated, regarding the win over the Little Rock team. “We came out with a lot more energy than the last time we played those guys. Our guys know who they are, and they know who we are. We weren’t surprised at all.
“We came out, had plans at the dish and executed those plans,” he added. “We scratched in almost every inning and the inning we didn’t, we were still productive at the dish and that’s all you can ask.
“We squared the ball up all night long. Some of them fell, some of them didn’t. That’s the beautiful game of baseball. We kept battling, kept moving runners, kept stealing bases and the bonus was playing good defense.”
Indeed, the Sox had some crucial miscues in the loss to the Cobras but played error-free on Monday while benefitting from four Little Rock mistakes.
Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Drew Tipton, who was on base four times and scored three runs, drew a walk. He stole second and scored on Lee’s double off Cobras starter Dylan Hays.
Hunter Oglesby started on the mound for the Sox. The tight strike zone must’ve made it feel like he was trying to thread a donut but he retired the first batter on a 3-2 count, gave up a single by Luke Van Dover then walked Jack Lee on a 3-2 delivery. When he hit Colton Fisher, the bases were loaded. When his first two pitches to Jacob White were out of the zone, Brown brought in Dupree.
White wound up smacking a two-run single to left and Hays made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly but that was the last of the Cobras’ scoring.
“Dupree did a heck of a job,” Brown commented. “Oglesby struggled there at the beginning. We had a short leash on him but he’ll bounce back tomorrow. But Devin Dupree, man, that dude — we’ve put him in situations like that all year. He buckles down, bows his neck and gets the job done.”
Oglesby didn’t let the quick hook affect his hitting. He went 3 for 4 in the game and scored three runs. Lee contributed two RBI doubles and a sacrifice fly. Tipton and Brandan Warner pitched in with two hits each.
Oglesby’s first hit opened the top of the second. He advanced on a wild pitch, was bunted to third by Harrison Dale, and scored on Trey Breeding’s base hit to left.
With two down, singles by Tipton and Dalton Holt brought Breeding around to tie it.
In the bottom of the inning, Little Rock’s Geoff Flemmons pulled a single into the hole on the right side. Tipton made a sprawling stop but his throw to first wasn’t in time. Moments later, however, Adam Wright took a third strike as Flemmons tried to steal second. But Breeding gunned him down for a strike-em-out, throw-em-out doubleplay.
It proved to be a big play when the next batter Ryan Panyard walked and Van Dover cracked his second single. Dupree got out of it by getting Jack Lee to ground to Dale at short for a force out.
Bryant took a 4-3 lead in the third on Oglesby’s two-out single and a long double by Dale that allowed him to score all the way from first.
Dupree hit Fisher with a pitch to open the bottom of the third. White sacrificed him to second but he got no further, thanks in large part to a nice short-hop pickup by Dale, charging from short to get the speedy Jarod Collier by a whisker at first to end the frame.
The Bryant hurler would work around a pair of singles in the fourth, a two-out double in the fifth and a one-out single in the sixth. He finished by retiring the last five Cobras batters.
Meanwhile, the Sox tacked on three in the top of the fourth with a pair of throwing errors aiding their cause. Breeding reached on the first one, took second on a wild pitch and third on Warner’s infield chopper, which he beat out for a hit. Tipton’s grounder to third drew a wild throw allowing Breeding to score then Warner came in on another wild pitch. With Tipton on third, Lee smacked a long fly to center for his second RBI, making it 7-3.
Reliever Austin Chumley kept the Sox off the board in the fifth, despite a walk to Dale and a pair of wild pitches that allowed him to get to third before the inning closed.
The Sox returned to their scoring spree in the sixth. Warner reached on an error, Tipton beat out an infield hit then stole second. A wild pitch allowed Warner to score and, with two down, Lee smacked his second double down the line in right, though there was no clear call on the play initially. Everyone froze for a second then Lee took off as the Cobras’ right-fielder chased after the ball. Little Rock’s coaches protested but to no avail. The Sox had a 9-3 advantage.
Oglesby’s third single opened the top of the seventh. Dale got a sacrifice bunt down but Chumley fielded it and threw wildly to first, putting runners at second and third.
Carter Wade relieved for the Cobras and uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Oglesby to score. After a strikeout, Wade served up an RBI double to Warner that made it 11-3.
Bryant improved to 26-1 with the win.
BRYANT EVERETT 11, LITTLE ROCK COBRAS 3
Black Sox ab r h bi Cobras ab r h bi
Tipton, 2b-rf 4 3 2 0 Panyard, cf 3 0 0 0
Holt, lf-rf-1b 4 0 1 1 Van Dover, ss 4 1 3 0
E.Lee, cf-lf 3 0 2 3 J.Lee, c 3 1 0 0
Patterson, 1b 4 0 0 0 Fisher, 3b 1 1 0 0
Tatum, 2b 0 0 0 0 Ferguson, 3b 1 0 0 0
Dupree, rf-p 4 0 0 0 White, 2b 3 0 1 2
Oglesby, p-cf 4 3 3 0 Hays, p-1b 2 0 1 1
Dale, ss 1 1 1 1 Collier, lf 3 0 0 0
Breeding, c 4 2 1 1 Flemmons, 1b 2 0 1 0
Warner, 3b 4 2 2 1 Chumley, p 1 0 0 0
Wade, p 0 0 0 0
Wright, rf 3 0 2 0
Totals 32 11 12 7 Totals 26 3 8 3
BRYANT 121 302 2 — 11
Little Rock 300 000 0 — 3
E—Fisher 2, Van Dover, Chumley. DP—Bryant 1. LOB—Bryant 5, Little Rock 8. 2B—E.Lee 2, Dale, Warner. SB—Tipton 2, White. S—Dale 2, White. SF—Hays, E.Lee.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Oglesby 0.1 3 3 1 1 0
Dupree (W) 6.2 0 0 7 1 3
Hays (L) 4 7 4 8 1 1
Chumley 2 4 2 2 1 3
Wade 1 0 0 1 0 2
Chumley faced two batters in the seventh.
HBP—Fisher 2 (by Oglesby, by Dupree). WP—Hays 2, Chumley 2, Wade, Dupree.