MEMPHIS — On the second day of pool action at the annual Keith Hagan Memorial All-America Classic, the Bryant Black Sox Junior American Legion team (15U) battled the East Coast Select Sox to a 5-5 draw then pinned a 6-3 loss on East Coast Prime.
Bryant was set to continue pool play on Sunday against Houston High School of Memphis and Batters Box.
Bryant 5, East Coast Select Sox 5
Only in showcase baseball do they allow games to finish in ties. So, it was a frustrating opening game against the Select Sox. Particularly in light of the fact that Bryant had built a 4-0 lead in the early going and led 5-3 after three innings.
But the East Coast team scored a run in the fifth and another in the sixth to pull even.
Bryant was held to just four innings but, in conjunction with nine walks and an error, produced those five runs.
Zion Collins pitched around a lead-off single in the top of the first. In the bottom half, Ryan Riggs drew a walk to lead it off. Brayden Lester and Noah Davis each walked, and the Sox had the bases loaded with no one out.
With one out, Will Hathcote grounded into a force at second as Riggs scored the game’s first run.
Despite a two-out error, Collins eased through the top of the second before the Sox scored three in the home second. Blaine Sears was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Riggs and Lester each walked to fill the bases. Davis singled in a run and another scored when Collins’ hit a one-hop shot to short that resulted in a force at second. But Riggs scored to make it 3-0. An error allowed Lester to score.
Taking advantage of three walks, the Select Sox put a run on the board in the top of the third when a batter was hit by a pitch.
Tyler Bates relieved for Bryant and got the second out on strikes. But a balk made it 4-2 and a passed ball cut the lead to one.
A two-out walk to Sears gave the Black Sox a chance to take on in the home third. Riggs worked a walk then Lester and Davis were drilled by pitches, forcing in the fifth run.
In the top of the fourth, a pair of walks started the top of the fourth and Christian Motes relieved Bates. A line drive hit Motes and went for a base hit to load the bases.
But the right-hander got the first out on a pop to Sears at second. Motes then speared a sharp one-hopper, threw home for a force and Riggs relayed to first for a rally-killing doubleplay.
After the Black Sox were set down in order in the bottom of the fourth, East Coast whittled another run off the lead with a pair of doubles.
In the home fifth, singles by Aaron Morgan and Riggs, along with a hit batsman that allowed Lester to get aboard, had Bryant in position to add on but East Coast escaped, still trailing 5-4.
The tying run scored on a single, a stolen base, an error and a sacrifice fly.
In the home sixth, Josh Turner gave the Sox a chance to win with a lead-off single to center. With one out, Turner stole second and, with two down, Motes worked a walk. But a strikeout ended the game.
Bryant 6, East Coast Prime 3
Lester had three hits while Davis and Sears added two each, but it took a five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth for the Black Sox to pull out the victory. They trailed 3-1 going into the inning.
Davis got the victory on the mound after becoming the Sox’ third pitcher in the fifth. Lester worked into the fourth and, when East Coast Prime made it 2-0 and was threatening get more, gave way to Turner, who got out of the inning. Davis gave up an unearned run in the top of the inning that made it 3-0.
The game-winning rally began with a single to center by Bates. Conner Coleman walked then Sears beat out a bunt for a hit to load the bases. Bates scored when Riggs bounced into a force at second.
Coleman tied it when he scored on Lester’s bunt hit with the squeeze on. After a pitching change, Lester stole second and Davis cracked a 3-1 pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double that gave Bryant its first lead of the game.
East Coast tried to rally in the top of the seventh. A lead-off walk and a one-out single had the tying runs aboard but Davis caught a short pop up then he induced a groundout to end it.
Prime had scored a run on a single and a double in the first. In turn, Riggs walked, and Lester beat out a bunt single to start the bottom of the inning but, when Davis tried to sacrifice, East Coast got a force at third. The next two were retired on strikes to foil to uprising.
It stayed 1-0 until East Coast’s rally in the top of the fourth. An infield hit, an error and a wild pitch had a man at third, but Lester struck out the next two batters. He walked the next two. A balk allowed the run to score then Turner came on to get the final out on a little hump-back liner back to the mound.
Singles by Ethan Andrews and Sears in the bottom of the fourth came to naught and, for Prime, a two-out infield hit, an error, a wild pitch and another miscue allowed the third East Coast run.
Bryant finally got on the board in the home fifth. Lester cracked a pinch-hit single and, with one out, he scored on Will Hathcote’s double to left.
Davis struck out the side around a two-out walk in the top of the sixth to set up Bryant’s game-turning rally.