MOUNTAIN HOME — Riding the momentum from a 16-8 win over Wharton, Texas in the losers bracket final[more] Monday evening, the host Mountain Home 14-year-old All-Stars denied the Bryant All-Stars a clean sweep of the 2012 Babe Ruth Southwest Regional Tournament for 14-year-old teams. Bryant, which went unbeaten in the South Arkansas State Tournament, had whipped three opponents including Mountain Home, 16-5, to get to the championship round.
But the 8-6 win by Mountain Home on Monday sets up a winner-take-all championship game tonight at 5 p.m. The winner earns a trip to the Babe Ruth World Series in Murray, Utah, beginning Aug. 18.
Mountain Home rode a six-run third to the victory on Monday. The uprising came on the heels of Bryant taking a 4-2 lead in the top of the inning.
It stayed 8-4 until the seventh when Bryant rallied for a two runs. The game ended with the potential tying run at the plate.
The Bryant team, managed by Mark Kehrees with assistance from Seth Doxey and Blain Jackson, includes Connor Alliston, Bailey Bowers, Luke Brantley, Chase Brooks, Daniel Darbonne, Zach Jackson, Nick Kehrees, Zach Knapp, Mike Martindale, Caleb McElyea, Liam Miller and Connor Tatum.
Tatum, who was on base three times and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly was awarded player of the game honors for Bryant.
Mountain Home took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, utilizing three singles and a walk. Bryant got on the board in the top of the second. Darbonne reached on a third-strike wild pitch then walks to Bowers and Kehrees loaded the bases for Tatum, who delivered his sacrifice fly.
After Jackson struck out two while retiring the side in order in the bottom of the second, Bryant grabbed its short-lived lead. A triple by Miller ignited the uprising. He would score on a passed ball.
With one out, Darbonne, Bowers and McElyea rapped singles to produce a run. Kehrees drew another walk then the third run scored when Tatum’s grounder to short was booted.
Very little went right for Bryant in the bottom of the third. A single, a sacrifice, and an error set the table. With two down, a hit batsman, an outfield error and a single got the carousel spinning. Another error and a pair of singles completed the onslaught, making it 8-4.
Jackson re-established control in the fourth by retiring Mountain Home 1-2-3 but Bryant struggled to break through to close the gap. In the fourth Jackson singled but was stranded after taking second on Darbonne’s groundout. In the fifth, Tatum and Martindale drew two-out walks but were stranded at first and third.
Miller and Brooks drew passes in the sixth but a doubleplay got Mountain Home out of the jam.
Bryant’s seventh-inning rally began with McElyea reaching first on an error. He advanced on a passed ball and, after Kehrees drew his third walk, both moved up on Tatum’s grounder to first then scored on Brantley’s clutch two-out single to right. But that was all Bryant could manage.