Junior Sox stay hot, rally past Benton team

BENTON – For their sixth win in the last eight games, the Bryant Black Sox Junior American Legion team overcame a 3-0 deficit with four runs in the top of the fifth and four more in the top of the sixth to forge an 8-3 win over a Benton team at Bernard Holland Park on Thursday.

The Sox hammered out nine hits including two each from Hunter Holt, Carson Kemp and Luke Bickerstaff. 

Over the last three innings, Jaxon Ham and Clay Crawford shut out Benton on one hit.

Benton took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a single, a stolen base and a pair of groundouts. Starter Lakin Woods pitched out of a jam in the second after an error and a walk put two aboard. 

Kemp relieved in the bottom of the third and an error and a pair of stolen bases set up the second Benton run. Another groundout allowed the run to score. A third run on a pair of singles made it 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth.

For the Sox, Brady Brower had walked in the first then Kemp singled in the second. In the third, Bickerstaff singled and Grant Dunbar walked but both were stranded. In the top of the fourth, Kemp singled only to be left on base.

In the top of the fifth, however, the Sox rallied to take a 4-3 lead. Mason Butler drew a pinch-hit walk and, though he was forced at second on a tap back to the mound off the bat of Michael Parker, Dunbar drew a walk to keep the inning alive. Brower was struck by a pitch to load the bases for Holt, who delivered a two-run double.

Ryan Green, running for Brower, scored on a passed ball to tie the game then Holt scored when Kemp’s grounder to first was misplayed.

Ham issued a walk to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the fifth but retired the next three and the Sox went back to work at the plate in the top of the sixth.

A one-out single by Bickerstaff ignited the uprising. Butler walked and, after a pitching change, Caden Stovall slapped a single to right that got Bickerstaff home. And, on the unsuccessful throw to the plate, Butler wound up at third and Stovall cruised into second. Both scored on Dunbar’s triple. Holt got him home with a base hit.

Benton threatened in the bottom of the inning. With one out, a single and walk started things. After Ham struck out the next batter, he struck one with a 1-1 delivery. But he came back to end the inning with a strikeout.

In the seventh, the Benton leadoff man against Crawford reached base on a third-strike wild pitch. The next batter was hit by a pitch. But Crawford retired the next three on a pop out to Brayden Beenken at second, a groundball to Bickerstaff at short and a fly to Justen Myles in right.

The Sox are now 10-14-4. They are tentatively scheduled to play North Little Rock at home on Monday with the Junior State Tournament in Conway set to start on Tuesday.

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