NIXA, Mo. — Just when the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team appeared to be in position for their third consecutive comeback win at the Mid-American Premier Tournament, based in Springfield, Mo., a sudden, surprise pickoff play caught the Sox for the final out that left them behind Nixa High School, 9-8.
It was their first loss of pool play. They finish on Saturday against the Midwest Nationals at Willard, Mo., High School.
In a back-and-forth battle, the Sox snapped a 5-5 tie with three runs in the top of the fifth only to have Nixa cut a run off the margin in the bottom of the fifth then come up with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to forge a lead.
In Bryant’s seventh, Coby Greiner led off with a single and Logan Chambers drew a walk. The next two batters flew out bringing up Brandon Hoover. But even before Hoover stepped into the box, a pickoff throw caught Greiner just a step off the second-base bag, ending the game.
The Sox led initially on a run in the first inning. Wright rifled a one-out double to left, taking third on a misplayed throw. He scored when Cade Drennan’s grounder to third drew a wild throw to first.
Bryant added on in the top of the third. Again, Wright was the instigator as he and Drennan drew lead-off walks. Hoover was plunked by a pitch to fill the sacks for Scott Schmidt, who delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Myers Buck got a squeeze bunt down to score Drennan and it was 3-0.
Nixa got to Sox starter Will McEntire for three runs in the bottom of the third. Three consecutive singles and an error produced the first pair of runs. Nixa tied it with a two-out infield hit.
Bryant regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Matthew Sandidge doubled to start the outburst. Greiner sacrificed him to third then Chambers belted an RBI double. A wild pitch allowed Chambers to take third and he scored from there on Wright’s sacrifice fly to left.
Nixa tied it again in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of a pair of hits including one on a bunt, a sacrifice and a two-run single.
With the go-ahead run at second, McEntire ended the inning with a strikeout and a fly to Greiner in center.
In the top of the fifth, Schmidt was hit by a pitch but was forced at second on Buck’s grounder to third. But a walk to Grant kept the inning going. He then followed Buck home when Sandidge mashed a triple to center. Greiner singled and it was 8-5.
Greiner made it to third but was stranded along with Wright, who walked with two away.
A double and a pair of singles in the home fifth trimmed a run off the Bryant margin.
After the Sox failed to score in the top of the sixth despite a walk to Schmidt and a double by Buck, Nixa plated three runs to take the lead. Wright, on in relief of McEntire, surrendered a lead-off walk and a single before giving way to Boston Heil. An error on a sacrifice bunt allowed Nixa to score two runs, tying the game. An RBI groundout put them ahead going into the seventh.