CONWAY — After riding its pitching and defense to victory in the opening game of the Junior American Legion State Tournament, the Bryant Black Sox erupted offensively to produce a satisfying 14-4 victory over Benton Williams Tire in the second round.
The win lifted the Sox into the winners’ bracket finals of the tournament on Sunday at around 3 p.m.
The Sox took advantage of nine walks with 10 hits in the game. Peyton Dillon, a standout on the mound on Friday, went 3 for 4 with four runs batted in to lead the way on offense Saturday. Christian Harp and Cade Drennan each had two hits.
Not that the pitching and defense weren’t just fine on Saturday either, except for one inning. Coby Greiner fired three innings of shutout ball with three strikeouts and a walk. He scattered four hits. Christian Motes relieved in the fourth and kept the shutout through five innings.
Benton scored its four runs in the sixth, which Motes started. Zion Collins got out of the inning eventually and pitching two-thirds of the seventh before Jake Wright came in to get out of a jam with a game-ending strikeout.
The Sox took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Singles by Harp and Dillon opened the inning. Drennan, trying to sacrifice, placed his bunt so well that he got a hit out of it, loading the bases.
Harp came in when Brayden Lester grounded into a force at second, beating the throw to first to avoid a doubleplay. An errant pickoff throw allowed Dillon to score as Lester raced all the way to third. When Collins’ grounder to short was booted, Lester made it 3-0.
After pitching around a single and a walk in the first, Greiner set down Benton in order in the second.
In the third, Bryant tacked on two more. Walks to Greiner and Wright set the table. A wild pitch had allowed Greiner to reach third as Wright walked. Wright then swiped second, on of five stolen bases by the Sox in the contest.
Greiner would score on a passed ball then Dillon singled in Wright to make it 5-0.
Benton opened the bottom of the third with a pair of singles, one on a bunt. But Greiner finished up with a strikeout, a force out on a grounder to third and a comebacker.
Lester led off the fourth with a knock. Collins sacrificed him t o second and he scored when Konnor Clontz’ grounder to second was misplayed. That made it 6-0.
Motes pitched around a pair of singles in the bottom of the fourth and a two-out walk in the fifth.
Bryant’s sixth began with a free pass to Clontz. He advanced to second on Logan Catton’s grounder to first then Greiner singled him home. Wright’s grounder to third was kicked setting the stage for Harp’s RBI single.
Dillon capped the inning with a two-run double as the lead reached double-digits.
Needing to score to keep the game going, Benton got its four in the home sixth but Bryant got those four right back in the top of the seventh. Clontz walked, Catton was drilled by a pitch then Greiner drew a free pass to fill the sacks. Clontz scored on a passed ball then Wright’s single plated Catton.
A walk to Harp loaded the bags again then Dillon picked up his fourth RBI by being struck by a 1-0 pitch to force in a run. Wright scrambled home on a wild pitch to set the final score.
Collins, who had ended the sixth with a pair of strikeouts, walked the first two he faced in the bottom of the seventh. The runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch but had to hold on a fly to Greiner in center. The Sox’ reliever got the second out on a tap back to the mound as the runners continued to hold their spots.
Wright relieved and issued a walk to load the bases before he closed out the win.