Photos courtesy of Phil Pickett
OMAHA, Neb. — The Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team improved to 3-0 in pool play at[more] the annual Battle of Omaha on Friday, rallying past the Branson, Mo., 76ers, 5-2, and drubbing the Lincoln, Neb., Pius Thunderbolts, 9-1.
Now 10-0 overall, the Sox are set to conclude pool play today with an 8 a.m. game against host Omaha Northwest then at 10:30 a.m., against the Helena, Mont., Senators.
In Friday’s first game, Bryant right-hander Nate Rutherford surrendered two unearned runs in the first inning then shut out Branson on five hits the rest of the way, striking out 12 and walking just one. The Sox scored a run in the second and another in the third to tie the game, then put together a three-run sixth to provide the winning margin.
Josh Pultro and Ozzie Hurt each had two hits in the game and Hunter Mayall drove in two runs. Pultro’s hits included a solo homer.
In the win over the Lincoln Pius, the Sox got off to a fast start with a six-run first on the way to building a 9-0 lead in the first three innings. Tryce Schalchlin, Hayden Daniel and Josh Pultro threw shutout ball over the first six innings before the Thunderbolts pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh.
Jordan Taylor and Marcus Wilson led the offense with two hits each. Mayall drove in three and Landon Pickett slugged a solo homer. The Sox benefitted from eight walks and a hit batsman.
Bryant’s game-winning rally against Branson began with Pultro reaching on a one-out error. With two down, Wilson singled, setting the table for Hurt who’s base hit drove in Pultro with the go-ahead run. Mayall then doubled Wilson and Hurt around to make it 5-2.
In the top of the seventh, the 76ers’ Alex Stephens doubled and Daniel Batt singled. But Rutherford struck out Lake Keller and got Dylan Newberry to ground into a game-ending doubleplay.
Branson grabbed the early lead on a hit batsman, an error and a two-out RBI single. Rutherford struck out Ryan Forrest to end the inning. He fanned two more to work around a one-out single by Batt in the second.
Pultro smacked his homer with one out in the second then, in the third, Tyler Nelson stroked a two-out single and scored all the way from first on a shot to center by Taylor that went for a double.
It stayed 2-2 until the Sox’ sixth. Rutherford retired the side in order in the third then pitched around a two-out single by Stephens in the fourth.
In the fifth, Keller walked and Cody Hull singled but Rutherford picked Keller off second then fanned the next two to escape. The Bryant right-hander fanned two more in a 1-2-3 sixth.
For Bryant, Pultro and Hurt singled in the fourth but were stranded then no one got aboard in the fifth.
The Sox big first against Lincoln Pius started with walks to Mayall, Taylor, Pickett and Tyler Brown to produce the first run. With two down, Hayden Lessenberry was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Thunderbolts’ starter Jordan Hass continued to struggle, issuing RBI walks to Wilson and Hurt before Mayall belted a two-run double to left to make it 6-0.
Schalchlin surrendered a walk to Rex Raetz and a single to Alex Schleppenbach to start the bottom of the first but induced three straight grounders that each resulted in a forces at second.
Pickett blasted his solo homer with one out in the second to make it 7-0. In turn, Schalchlin pitched around a one-out single by Tom Schneider.
Bryant’s third began with a walk to Lessenberry by reliever Tony McWilliams. Wilson beat out an infield hit then Hurt got a sacrifice bunt down and Mayall came through with a sacrifice fly. With Wilson at third, Nelson walked and Taylor singled and it was 9-0.
Daniel took over on the mound in the bottom of the inning and worked around Jared Kobush’s two-out double. A lead-off walk in the fourth went for naught for the Lincoln team. In the fifth, Jon Brakenhaff beat out a bunt single but, moments later, was picked off by Daniel. Schleppenbach flew out to Nelson in center to send it to the sixth.
Pultro relieved in the sixth and struck out two to wriggle out of a bases-loaded jam that resulted from a single by Kolbush and a pair of walks. He struck out the first batter in the seventh as well but a hit batsman and a pair of singles produced the lone run for the Nebraska team. With the bags full and two out, Pultro got Bodfield to line out to Nelson in center to close it out.