LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — Three outs away from suffering their third loss in pool play and, for all intents, ending their bid to advance to the single-elimination championship tournament at the Babe Ruth World Series, the Bryant 14-year-old All-Stars mounted an incredible nine-run rally in the top of the seventh to stun the Arlington, Mass., All-Stars, 12-9, on Tuesday.
Wesley Akers provided the crowning blow. With the game tied 9-9, two out, and the bases loaded, he ripped a double to left center to clear the bags before he was thrown out trying to get to third.[more]
Ashton Green came on to pitch the bottom of the inning and worked around a two-out single to nail down the improbable victory, which kept the Southwest Regional champion Bryant squad alive in their bid to advance. There were set to play Waite Park, Minn., on Wednesday, needing a win and some help to make bracket play from Arlington in its final pool play game against Vancouver, Wash., one of the two teams to defeat Bryant earlier.
Waite Park came into the game, the only team in the National Division that had not been beaten.
The Bryant 14’s include Wesley Akers, Harrison Dale, Justin Emmerling, Zach Graddy, Ashton Green, Tristan Matthews, Austin Miller, Christopher Phillips, Nate Rutherford, Korey Thompson, Chris Troillett, Chase Tucker and Blake Yates. Jason Thompson manages the team with assistance from Mark Akers.
Bryant trailed 9-3 going into the seventh after Arlington scored four times in the bottom of the sixth to extend its advantage. Bryant got a life when Green opened the top of the seventh with a shot to left for a triple. Dale walked on four pitches to bring up Akers who chased them both home with what would be his first extra-base hit of the inning, a triple to make it 9-5.
The pattern continued with a walk to Tucker and a two-run single by Graddy that suddenly had the lead trimmed to two runs with still nobody out.
Another walk to Phillips was followed by an infield pop for the first out. Rutherford fouled off a pair of 3-2 pitches to earn a walk that loaded the bags for Thompson, who waited out a walk to force in a run, making it 9-8 and rolling the lineup over to Green again. But he fanned for the second out, putting it on the shoulders of Dale. And, on a 1-1 pitch, Dale came through with an RBI single to tie the game.
Moments later, Akers blasted a 2-1 delivery for his bases-clearing double.
Green became the fourth Bryant pitcher to start the bottom of the seventh and induced a pop up to open the frame. But that brought up the top of the Arlington order. A strikeout of the lead-off man was crucial. On the next pitch, a single kept the Massachusetts team’s hope alive. But a grounder to Akers at third ended the game.
Bryant actually led at the outset, scoring twice in the top of the first. Green was hit by a pitch and sacrificed to second by Dale. Akers walked and, after a double steal, Tucker delivered a two-run double.
In the bottom of the inning, Rutherford, the Bryant starter, retired the first two before issuing a walk and a single. An error allowed a run to score before the third out was recorded.
The 2-1 lead held until the bottom of the third when Arlington used an error and a pair of two-out hits to tie it with another unearned run.
In the fourth, a double, a passed ball and a single snapped the tie. An error and another passed ball had Arlington up 4-2. A walk led to a pitching change with Akers coming to the mound. He fanned the first batter he faced then fielded a pop but another passed ball along the way brought in a third run before Akers surrendered a walk then ended the inning with a strikeout.
The right-hander pitched around a one-out hit in the fifth to keep it 5-2.
At the plate, meanwhile, Bryant was unable to get much going. Matthews singled in the second but was forced out. In the third, Tucker singled to left ahead of a two-out walk to Graddy. But trying to advance on a short passed ball, he was caught in a rundown and tagged out to end the inning. Another hit by Matthews with one out in the fourth came to naught as did a lead-off single by Green in the fifth.
Bryant finally broke through in the top of the sixth, trimming a run off the lead when, with one out, Miller walked, advanced on a groundout by Troillett and scored on a single by Rutherford.
In the bottom of the inning, however, the game appeared to get away. Arlington followed a walk and an error to start the uprising with a pair of hits. Dale, on in relief, retired the next two but an RBI single to right made it 9-3 before he could get the final out, setting up the remarkable finish.
(Photos by Bradley Miller)