TEXARKANA — Right-hander Tryce Schalchlin proved once again to be the secret weapon of the Bryant[more] Black Sox Senior American Legion pitching staff when, entering the game in relief to get out of a two-run sixth, he shut out the Sheridan Yellowjackets over the final three innings. And the Sox rallied, turning an 8-4 deficit into a 12-8 victory that guaranteed them a return trip to the State Tournament.
The Sox erupted for six runs in the top of the seventh, highlighted by a game-tying three-run jack by Landon Pickett and a two-run single by Tyler Nelson that put them ahead to stay.
Bryant, now 26-5, is set to play the TEXAR Razorbacks of Texarkana in the championship round. The two teams, which were the last two standing at the end of the 2011 Senior League State tourney, will play for the Zone tourney crown and seeding for the State Tournament, which commences on Friday, July 27, at Burns Park in North Little Rock. The Sox will need to win twice to garner the tourney title and the top seed from the Zone.
(Fans will be able to follow Monday night’s game with live updates on GameChanger.io. Search for Bryant Black Sox Senior.)
To set up the showdown between Bryant and Sheridan, Texarkana had knocked off the Jackets, 14-4, earlier in the day after Bryant had eliminated Little Rock Express, 17-0.
Sheridan, despite tying Bryant and TEXAR for the regular-season Zone 4 championship and defeating the Sox in a second-round game on Saturday, 4-3, ends its season with a 24-7 record. Though the Jackets are, no doubt, among the best teams in the state, only two from each Zone qualify for the State tourney.
Schalchlin struck out three and walked two, while surrendering three hits in the final 3 2/3 innings of the win over Sheridan. Nate Rutherford started and, after giving up a four-run second, battled effectively until the sixth when he couldn’t get out of the inning.
Offensively, Bryant was led by Hunter Mayall with three hits. Pickett, Tyler Brown and Jordan Taylor each had two. Pickett, the team’s leading RBI man, drove in five.
The two teams combined for 29 hits. Sheridan got three from Nick Ware and Alec Pender at the top of its order. Jake Smith, Grady Finley, Josh Miller and Ryan Taylor had two each but all but two of the Jackets’ 15 knocks were singles. For Bryant, along with Pickett’s blast, he, Taylor and Mayall contributed doubles.
Both teams scored a run in the first. For Bryant, it was the result of a one-out walk to Brown and Taylor’s long double to center.
Sheridan’s was aided by an error. Pender walked with one out then Smith got a sacrifice bunt down and when the throw to first was wild, Pender came all the way around to score. Rutherford got Zach Perkins to fly to Marcus Wilson in left then Bryant catcher Hayden Lessenberry threw out Smith trying to steal second to end the inning.
Finley, the Sheridan starter, retired the Sox in order in the top of the second then he and his teammates pushed in four runs in the bottom of the frame. Singles by Finley and Miller started the inning. Taylor’s base hit put the Jackets ahead.
Rutherford made a bid to get out of the inning at that point, retiring the next two but a two-out, two-run single by Ware, a bunt single by Pender and an RBI hit by Smith made it 5-1.
As would prove to be the case all game long, Bryant bounced back in its next at-bat. Hayden Daniel singled to left and Ozzie Hurt slapped a hit to right, chasing Daniel to third. Mayall’s base hit drove in a run and, after Brown sacrificed runners to second and third, Taylor picked up an RBI with a groundout to trim the margin to 5-3.
Rutherford pitched around singles by Finley and Taylor in the home third but, in the fourth, Sheridan loaded the bases on singles by Ware and Smith around a walk to Pender. Perkins walked to force in a run but Finley lined out to Daniel in center and when Miller flied out, Josh Pultro threw out Pender as he tried to tag and score, ending the inning.
Trailing 6-3, the Sox whittled a run off the margin in the top of the fifth. Mayall and Brown singled then Taylor walked with one out. Mayall came home when Pickett reached on an error but Sheridan turned a doubleplay to escape further damage.
Sheridan was retired in order in the bottom of the fifth as was Bryant in the top of the sixth. The Jackets then made a bid to grab control of the game in the home sixth. Ware singled and Pender reached on another of Bryant’s five errors in the game. With runners at second and third, Smith hit a bouncer to Brown at third. With Ware trying to score, Brown threw home for the out as Lessenberry made the tag. But Perkins cracked an RBI double.
Schalchlin entered for Bryant and Finley hit a grounder to third. The Sox caught Perkins in a rundown. He stayed in the pickle long enough for Finley to get to second and, moments later, Smith would score when Miller reached on an error.
The 8-4 lead was erased in Bryant’s big seventh. The first run was the result of a double by Mayall and an error that allowed Brown to reach. Taylor singled then Pickett tied into the next pitch and lined it over the fence in left to knot the game 8-8.
Pultro singled, Lessenberry walked and, after Wilson sacrificed them to second and third, Nelson pulled a liner to right for a two-run single that made it 10-8.
Sheridan put together a two-out threat in the bottom of the seventh when Ware walked and Pender cracked a double to left. But Schalchlin got Smith to tap back to the mound to escape.
The first two Bryant batters in the top of the eighth were retired but Taylor worked for a walk off lefty reliever Luke Nannemann. Pickett nearly drove another one out of the park but settled for an RBI double off the fence that made it 11-8.
Pultro walked and Lessenberry was hit by a pitch to load the bases so when Wilson walked, it forced in the 12th tally.
As might be expected, Sheridan did not go quietly. In the bottom of the eighth, Finley reached on a one-out error and Miller singled him to third. A walk to Ryan Taylor filled the bags but Schalchlin struck out Landon Huggins and got Jake Crenshaw to bounce to Brown at third for a force that ended the threat.
In the bottom of the ninth, Schalchlin got Ware to pop to Hurt at second. Pender singled to left but Smith struck out and Perkins popped to Taylor at short to end it.
Bryant 17, Little Rock Express 0
Pickett, Daniel and Hurt combined on a four-hit shutout in the first game of the day, which ended in seven innings. A nine-run fourth blew the game up. The Sox had already built a 5-0 lead.
Zach Graddy, Mayall and Brown each had three hits. Taylor, Pickett and Pultro two each as the Sox pounded out 17 hits. Taylor drove in four runs and Pultro three.
The Sox took a 3-0 lead in the first. Brown lined his first hit to center, Taylor walked and Pickett reached on an error to load the bases. With two down, a wild pitch allowed Bryant to score then Pultro lashed a single up the middle to drive in the other two runs.
Pickett issued a walk in the bottom of the first but the Sox erased it with a doubleplay. They then added a run to the margin in the second when Graddy singled, Hurt sacrificed him to second and Mayall singled him to third. With the sqeeze on, Brown got the bunt down and beat out a single as Graddy scored.
A lead-off single in the bottom of the second by Brock Ferguson was again erased when the Sox turned an inning-ending doubleplay. In turn, Bryant added another run in the third. Nelson walked, stole second and went to third on an errant throw. He scored on Wilson's sacrifice fly.
Little Rock made a bid to score in the bottom of the third when a double and a single had runners at first and third with two down. But Pickett induced a grounder to Taylor at short to end the inning.
The nine-run fourth started with a walk to Mayall, who stole second. Brown was hit by a pitch and, when Taylor got a sacrifice bunt down, an errant throw allowed him to reach as Mayall and Brown both scored. Taylor, who wound up at third, came in on Pickett's grounder to second.
Up 8-0, the Sox continued the onslaught when Nelson reached on an error and Pultro was plunked. Wilson beat out a bunt single to load the bases for Graddy who singled in two. Wilson scored on a wild pitch as Hurt walked then Mayall was struck by a delivery, loading the bases for Brown who was hit as well, forcing in a run. RBI singles by Taylor and Pickett made it 14-0.
Daniel worked a scoreless fourth and, in the fifth, the Sox were retired around a walk to Wilson and a single by Mayall. The Express managed a walk and a single to start the bottom of the fifth but both were stranded.
Bryant added a run in the sixth on doubles by Pickett and Pultro. After Hurt took over on the mound and worked around a one-out walk, the Sox plated the final two runs in the top of the seventh. Mayall and Brown singled and advanced on a passed ball. Taylor singled in Mayall and Brown scored when Daniel's grounder to first was booted.
Hurt closed out the win with a 1-2-3 home seventh.