OMAHA, Neb. — An out away from advancing to the championship of the Battle of Omaha, the[more] Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team had a 3-0 lead disappear. Pinnacle Bank of Papillion, Neb., rallied for four runs capped by a walk-off RBI single by Matt Gay to end the Black Sox’ bid at the finals.
The 4-3 loss was not only the first in six games at the tournament for the Sox but the first of the season. They went into bracket play with a 4-0 record in pool play. In the quarterfinals on Sunday morning, the Sox eliminated Hays, Kansas, 5-2, to set up the battle with the Nebraska team, which was one of two hosts for bracket play. Bryant built a 3-0 lead in the first two innings and right-hander Tryce Schalchlin made that stand up until the seventh. Even then, he issued a walk then retired the next two batters including one on strikes.
But the third out never came.
Matt Safranek grounded a single to left then Joey Ludemann lined one to center to load the bases. Schalchlin got a strike in to Landen Weisbeck but then he lined a double to left that cleared the bases and tied the game.
An intentional walk to Jake Piaczek set up a force situation but, on the first pitch to Gay, the base hit ended the game.
It was tough loss for Schalchlin who took a walk-free, two-hit shutout into the seventh.
Bryant took the lead in the first inning. Nelson walked and Jordan Taylor singled. A base hit by Landon Pickett drove in Nelson.
After Schalchlin retired the Bankers in order in the bottom of the inning, the Sox put together a two-out uprising in the top of the second. With two down, Marcus Wilson walked and Ozzie Haurt slapped a single to right. Wilson raced to third and, after a walk to Hunter Mayall loaded the bases, Nelson blooped a single to shallow left to drive in two.
Schalchlin wound up retiring six in a row before an error allowed Safranek to reach base to open the third. But the Bryant right-hander mowed down the next three. Papillion didn’t get its first hit until two were out in the fifth. Safranek singled then so did Ludemann. But Schalchlin struck out Weisbeck to end the inning. He eased through a 1-2-3 sixth.
The Sox, meanwhile, weren’t having much more luck with Pinnacle starter Justin Gassert. He pitched around a two-out single by Josh Pultro in the third, a two-out walk to Taylor in the fifth and a lead-off walk to Wilson in the top of the seventh.
In the win over Hays, Kansas, Pultro slugged a solo homer while Taylor and Pickett each drove in two runs.
Nelson went the distance on the mound allowing two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts. The Kansas team scored both of its runs in the fourth after Bryant had built a 5-0 lead. After that Nelson and Hays’ starter Clayton Basgall engaged in a scoreless duel.
Over the first two frames, Basgall only gave up a single to Mayall and Nelson only surrendered a second-inning single by Riley Kaus. In the third, however, Bryant’s Hayden Lessenberry reached base when his grounder to third was booted. Hayden Daniel singled then Hurt sacrificed the runners to second and third. After Mayall lined out to left, Tyler Brown drew a walk to load the bases, setting the stage for a two-run single by Taylor. Pickett then shot a drive to left for a double that drove in two more to make it 4-0.
Nelson struck out two as part of a 1-2-3 home third and, to lead off the fourth, Pultro unloaded on Basgall’s first pitch. The round-tripper to left made it 5-0.
Hays’ half of the fifth began with Nelson inducing a pair of groundouts. But a walk to Austin Uncein, a wild pitch and an RBI single by Kaus got Hays on the board. Base hits by Hayden Hutchinson and Jarrett Sanders loaded the bases then a wild pitch allowed the second run to score.
With runners at second and third, Nelson picked off Hutchinson to end the inning.
The Bryant hurler picked off a runner at second in the fifth after Hays had put two runners on base. A strikeout ended that threat. In the sixth, Nelson worked around a two-out walk then he closed out the win by retiring the side in order in the seventh.
Now 12-1 overall this season, the Sox were set to return to Zone 4 action on Wednesday, June 27, at Sheridan.