WHITE HALL — At the 2008 Babe Ruth 14-year-old Southwest Regional Tournament in Bryant, two of the teams that were heavily involved were the host team from Bryant, fresh from a World Series trip the year before, and the South Arkansas champions from Pine Bluff Seabrook. Both were sent to the losers bracket of the tournament by the eventual champion from Nederland, Texas but, before it was over, they met in the losers bracket final and Bryant won the chance to challenge Nederland a second time in the championship round with a 5-3 win that was among the best games of the tournament.
Of course, it's a rivalry that dates back much further than that.
And it continued on Monday, July 6, in the losers bracket final at the District tournament at White Hall. This time, Pine Bluff came out on top in another doozy of a game, 2-1.
Both will advance to the State tournament at Pine Bluff's Taylor Field beginning Friday, July 17, so they'll have a chance to add another chapter to the story of their rivalry there.
At District, Pine Bluff won a chance to play unbeaten White Hall in the championship round on Wednesday, needing two wins to claim the title. Bryant finishes third.
The Bryant 15-year-olds, coached by Wayne Taylor, include Seth Alkire, Jared Archer, Dylan Cross, Ozzie Hurt, Tyler Jamison, Luke McConnell, Quinton Motto, Trevor Paige, Josh Pultro, Alex Rowlan, Stoney Stevens, Jordan Taylor and Matthew Welch.[more]
On Monday, Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Jamison singled, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Hurt and scored on a single to right-center by Taylor.
After that, however, Pine Bluff pitcher Torey Deshazier retired nine in a row and allowed just two hits the rest of the game. Cross worked a one-out walk in the fourth, Stevens singled with two down in the fifth and, in the seventh, Motto singled to right with two down.
Alkire started on the mound and kept Pine Bluff shut out for three innings. He worked around a one-out single by Deshazier in the first. In the second, he overcame a one-out walk to Zach Bradford and a double by Reece Huffty, with the help of some splendid defense that turned a grounder to short into a 6-3-4-2 doubleplay. In the third, Justin Dardenne walked but Deshazier's grounder to Taylor at short was turned into another twin-killing.
In the fourth, however, a pair of walks led to trouble. Nic Anderson doubled in a run and Motto was called on to relieve for Bryant. Bradford struck out but a two-out, two-strike single by Huffty brought in the second run, a run that held up as decisive.
Bryant turned another doubleplay in the fifth after a lead-off walk and Motto worked around another free pass in the sixth and a when Huffty singled for his third hit of the game to start the top of the seventh, Bryant turned a fourth doubleplay.
But the Bryant Stars just couldn't break through against Deshazier as Pine Bluff held on for the dramatic win.