BREMERTON, Wash. — Jeffery Hastings got down a two-strike squeeze bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning and Austin Kelly beat a throw to the plate to snap a 1-1 tie and the Bryant 13-year-old All-Stars held on for a 2-1 win and a berth in the championship game of the Babe Ruth World Series.
Bryant, now 18-0 this summer including nine run-rule wins, is the lone unbeaten team in the tourney. The championship game, which begins at 6 o’clock (PDT), will pit the team against Greenville, N.C., which upset previously unbeaten Tri-Valley, Calif., Tuesday night, 4-1.
Dylan Hurt, who had tossed three innings of hitless relief of starter Jake East, worked around a two-out single in the top of the seventh to close out the victory over Monroe Township, N.J.
The New Jersey team was second to the California team in the American Division pool. North Carolina was third, having lost to both Tri-Valley and Monroe Township in pool play.
Bryant, which swept the National Division pool, includes Logan Allen, Drew Brown, Cameron Coleman, East, Hastings, Hurt, Kelly, Hayden Knowles, Garrett Misenheimer, Aaron Orender, Kyle Sahr, Alex Shurtleff, Diego Vargas. The team is managed by Jerry East with assistance from Rick Brown and Randy Kelly.
After scoring a run in the third inning to tie the game, Bryant had managed just one base-runner over the fourth and fifth. Kelly, however, opened the sixth with a single to right. And when the ball was misplayed, he sprinted to second. Bryant then started playing small ball. Orender beat out a bunt for a hit and Kelly advanced to third as Hastings came to the plate. On a 1-2 delivery, Hastings pushed the bunt to the right side and Kelly scored.
Hastings reached on the play as Orender got to second then Allen beat out a bunt hit to load the bases. A line-drive doubleplay took the starch out of the inning but Bryant had the lead for the first time in the game.
Hurt got Andrew Isola to pop to Orender at first to start the seventh. Matt Stepnowski tapped back to Hurt for the second out. A single by Eric Heatter gave Monroe Township hope but Robbie Peto flew out to Kelly in right to end it.
Kelly and Hurt each had two hits while the New Jersey team was limited to just three by East and Hurt.
East struck out the first two batters of the game before surrendering the first of those hits, a single by Kyle Daly. But Daly was stranded at first when Anthony Tagliaferro flew out.
Monroe Township starter Christopher Perdoni gave up a single by Hurt then, with two out, hit Misenheimer with a pitch but escaped unscathed.
In the top of the second, the New Jersey team got its lone run, which was unearned. Thomas Fleites walked with one down then Matthew Horn singled. (It would be the last hit for Monroe until the seventh.) A sacrifice moved the runners up then Stepnowski was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Heatter then reached on an error as Fleites scored.
With the sacks still jammed, however, East struck out Peto to end the inning.
Bryant, though, was still thwarted despite a one-out single by Hastings and a walk to Allen. The two worked a double steal to get to second and third but wound up stranded.
After East worked around a one-out walk in the top of the third, Bryant tied it. Shurtleff reached on an error and, with two down, Kelly ripped a 1-2 delivery for an RBI triple.
From that point on, Hurt and Heatter, on in relief for Monroe Township, dueled until the tell-tale sixth. Hurt hit a batter with two down in the fourth but Misenheimer, the Bryant catcher, threw the runner out trying to steal to end the inning.
Hurt fanned a pair as part of a 1-2-3 fifth. In the sixth, Tagliaferro led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second. But he got no further as Fleites fanned and Horn bounced back to the mound.
Meanwhile, the lone runner for Bryant before the sixth was Coleman, who reached on an error with two out in the fourth.
BABE RUTH WORLD SERIES
13-year-old championship bracket
At Bremerton, Wash.
Monday, Aug. 20
Game 1 — Greenville, N.C. 6, Waite Park, Minn., 3
Game 2 — Monroe Township, N.J. 1, Meridian, Idaho 0
Tuesday, Aug. 21
Game 3 — Greenville, N.C., 4, Tri-Valley, Calif., 1
Game 4 — Bryant, Ark., 2, Monroe Township, N.J., 1
Wednesday, Aug. 22
Game 5 — Bryant, Ark., vs. Greenville, N.C., 6 p.m.
Bryant 2, Monroe Township, N.J. 1