NEW ORLEANS, La. — Two rain delays, two trips from the hotel, two ballparks and too many errors made[more] the Bryant Black Sox’ debut at the Senior American Legion MidSouth Regional Tournament on Thursday a bit of a debacle.
Despite all of that, the Sox had a chance to win right up to the end and only fell 5-4 in the disjointed contest against the Hub City Bombers of Hattiesburg, Miss.
Because of the rain delays — one that interrupted the Bryant-Hattiesburg contest for three hours — including a third one Thursday evening, the tournament that started at the New Orleans Zephyrs’ home park, Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, lasted deep into the night. In fact, Bryant's game started the tourney at 9:30 a.m. but wasn't completed until around 4 p.m.
In the other games, Hahnville, La., edged Piedmont, Okla., 8-7; Hays, Kansas outlasted Columbia, Tenn., 13-6; and the host team Crescent City of New Orleans topped Washington, Mo., 6-1.
Today’s games were scheduled to start at 9:30 as well but have been moved back. Bryant was set to take on the Oklahoma team in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m.
Eight innings were in the books when the first delay in the Sox-Bombers duel. Hattiesburg held its 5-4 edge by then but had the bases loaded with one out. Tryce Schalchlin, on in relief of starter Jordan Taylor, had induced a comebacker to the mound that led to a force at home when the teams were called off the field.
When play resumed about an hour later, the Bombers’ Drew Standland tapped a 1-1 pitch back to Schalchlin who started a 1-2-3 doubleplay that ended the inning.
To start the bottom of the ninth, Bryant’s Hayden Lessenberry drew a lead-off walk and Hayden Daniel had worked the count to 2-1 when the skies opened up again.
“This time, it came a downpour,” recounted Sox manager Darren Hurt. “(The field) was already borderline unplayable as it was.
“We had the momentum going too,” he noted. “The pitcher (Tyler Odom, in relief of starter Jon Mark Herrington) had a 2-1 count on ‘Petey’, but (Odom) was all over the place. We really didn’t want that last rain to hit.
“After we got back to the hotel, we were there about an hour and 15 minutes and they tell us to get on the bus going to a different site,” Hurt recalled. “They bused us over to a different site. We got over there, got ready to play and (Hattiesburg) decided to put their stud in there to close it out. We played about five minutes and went back (to the hotel).”
When play resumed, Tyler Simmons took over on the mound for the Mississippi team. He struck out Daniel, got Ozzie Hurt to bounce into a force at second then ended it by inducing a grounder to second by Hunter Mayall, who had accounted for two of Bryant’s seven hits in the game.
The errors sabotaged the Sox’ effort. All five of the Bombers’ runs were unearned.
“We picked the wrong time to have probably the worst game we’ve had this year, overall,” Darren Hurt related. “It started early. We just made mistakes.”
Hattiesburg grabbed a 2-0 lead in the opening inning. An error opened the door allowing Darien Brown to reach base. He stole second and when the throw went into the outfield, he went to third. The Sox tried a pickoff play and felt they had him out.
“They had a three-man crew but the umpire got fooled on the pick just like the runner did,” Hurt said. “He didn’t see it. We had the guy out by a good three feet. That would’ve bailed us out a little bit.
“But we didn’t help ourselves,” he added. “We kicked the ball around. I mean we looked terrible early in the game. We just could not get anything going.”
With one out, a triple by Cort Brinson drove in the run and, moments later, Colton Caver got the second run in on a grounder to short.
In the bottom of the inning, Tyler Brown singled and Taylor reached on an error but they were stranded.
“We never got things going offensively against a kid (Herrington) that, I think, is going to Mississippi State,” Hurt said. “I just thought he was a kid that we were going to get on at some point. We just never really did. We scrapped around but that was about it.”
Taylor settled in and retired 14 of the next 15 batters, surrendering only a one-out single to Caver in the fourth.
The Sox tied it in the bottom of the third when Ozzie Hurt walked and sprinted home when Mayall’s single to right was misplayed in the outfield. Mayall wound up at third and, after Brown walked, Landon Pickett lofted a sacrifice fly to center to get Mayall home with the tying run.
Herrington pitched around a one-out double by Lessenberry in the bottom of the fourth but, in the fifth, Bryant grabbed the lead when Mayall ripped a triple to right and scored on Tyler Brown’s bouncer to second.
The Bombers’ Darian Brown snapped Taylor’s string with a single to center to start the top of the sixth. Standland drew a walk but an error on a pickoff play put runners at second and third. And when Brinson’s grounder was booted, Brown scored the tying run. Caver blooped a single to right and Hattiesburg held a 4-3 edge.
Marcus Wilson doubled in the bottom of the inning for the Sox but was caught trying to steal third and, in the seventh Hub City added to its lead. Odom singled and Josh Pankratz reached on an error. The Sox worked the wheel play on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Zac Jones to get Odom on a force at third. Brown followed with a bouncer to Ozzie Hurt at second but proved too speedy for the Sox to complete a doubleplay. Taylor and Standland battled to the 3-2 count before the Hattiesburg second baseman singled to make it 5-3.
The Sox scraped up a run in the bottom of the seventh to make it a one-run game. Daniel singled, stole second, took third on Ozzie Hurt’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Mayall’s grounder to second.
Taylor worked a 1-2-3 eighth but Herrington pitched around a two-out walk to Tyler Nelson in the bottom of the inning. With Schalchlin on in relief for Bryant, Odom reached on an error and Pankratz singled. A walk to Jones loaded the bags before the initial tap back to the mound for the force at the plate, which preceded the first rain delay.