Junior Sox ride pair of five-run bursts past Benton

BENTON — Ryan Riggs had three hits and four runs batted in and Lawson Speer had three hits, scored twice and knocked in two while stealing three bases as the Bryant Black Sox Junior American Legion team (17) used a pair of five-run outbursts to overcome the Benton SportShop Junior American Legion team, 12-7 on Tuesday night at Bill Perry Field in Bernard Holland Park.

The Sox pounded out 13 hits, took advantage of seven walks and combined to steal nine bases as they bounced back from their first loss of the season to Texarkana on Monday.

A trio of pitchers worked for Bryant. Christian Motes started with Slade Renfrow coming on in relief in the fourth. Noah Davis closed out the game with 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief as the Sox improved to 6-1 on the season.

Bryant trailed 3-0 then 4-2 before the first five-run uprising in the fourth. Marshall Golleher had come in to relieve starter Ty Jackson to start the inning. And he retired the first two batters. But Josh Turner got the Sox going with a single up the middle. Motes followed with a base hit to right. Noah Davis singled to left to drive in Garrett Wilson, who came on to run for Turner. A late throw home, allowed Davis to reach second.

Motes scored to tie the game and Davis put the Black Sox ahead when Speer shot a single up the middle.

After Speer stole second, he went to third on a wild pitch as Renfrow walked. Renfrow stole second to get into scoring position for Riggs who whacked a single to right, plating both runners and making it 7-4.

A walk to Kannon Allison forced a pitching change. Austin Hollis walked Ethan Andrews to load the bases but got a strikeout to end the inning.

Benton held the advantage over the first three innings. In the opening frame, Jackson, who worked around a walk to Speer and a single by Riggs in the top of the first, beat out an infield hit to open the bottom half. Though Riggs threw him out trying to steal, Cole Nicholas followed with a base hit. Hayden Simpson, who was 3 for 4 in the game, doubled to put runners at second and third. Nicholas scored on Austin Keen’s grounder to short, but Simpson was stranded at third as Motes fanned Golleher.

In the second, the Sox were retired in order for the only time all game. In the bottom of the inning, Hillis singled and, on a pitch in the dirt, got caught between first and second as Riggs pounced on the ball quickly. He was headed back to first when Riggs’ throw to second sailed into center. On his way back to first, Speer overthrew Allison at first and Hillis wound up at second anyway.

Caleb Gaines struck out but reached when the pitch got away. Hillis went to third then scored on another wild pitch.

With Gaines on second, Rylan Fogelman grounded out to Allison at first. Gaines advanced to third and scored from there on a squeeze bunt by Easton Dinnwiddy to make it 3-0.

The Sox broke through in the top of the third. With two out, Speer singled and stole second. He reached third on a wild pitch as Renfrow walked. Renfrow stole second and scored right behind Speer on Riggs’ bloop single to right, making it 3-2.

Allison made a bid for extra bases with a long blast to right-center only to have Dinnwiddy rob him.

Benton got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third. Simpson singled and took second on a wild pitch then scored on Golleher’s one-out knock.

After the Sox took the lead in the top of the fourth, Renfrow relieved for Bryant and fanned two on the way to a 1-2-3 frame.

Bryant then blew the game up with its second five-run uprising. This time, Wilson ignited the offense with a lead-off double. Connor Coleman traded places with Wilson by yanking a double down the left-field line. Davis singled and when the throw to third from the outfield got away, Coleman scored to make it 9-4.

Riggs, who took second on the throw, picked up third on a wild pitch and, with one out, scored on Renfrow’s double. Cameron McDonald ran for Renfrow and beat a throw to third when Riggs grounded to short. Yet another wild pitch allowed McDonald to score. Zion Collins, running for Riggs, was off on the pitch, stole second and continued to third when the pitch got away. He scored on a passed ball to make it 12-4.

Benton mounted a rally in the home fifth. After Andrews robbed the lead-off batter of a hit with a diving catch in left, Nicholas walked. Simpson singled and Keen walked to load the bases.

Davis relieved for the Sox and issued an RBI walk to Golleher. Hillis beat out an infield hit for an RBI then Gaines bounced into a force at third as Keen scored, making it 12-7.

Davis induced a pop to Renfrow at short to end the inning. He pitched around a pair of one-out singles in the sixth then retired the side in order in the seventh to close it out.

The Sox are scheduled to host Fort Smith in a doubleheader on Thursday before heading to Russellville for a tournament over the weekend.

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