File photo courtesy of Bridgette Grant
OZARK, Mo. — A six-run fourth had the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team ahead of Play It Again Sports of Wichita, Kan., 8-2. But the Kansas team rallied with four in the bottom of the inning then three more in the sixth, so the Sox found themselves down 9-8 going into the top of the seventh in the opening pool play game on Thursday at the Mid-American Premier Tournament, based in Spingfield, Mo.
Facing the possibility of losing their second game in a row, the Sox rallied. Logan Grant led off the seventh with a single up the middle then Coby Greiner’s grounder to short was misplayed.
With Logan Chambers at the plate, the duo on base attempted a double steal. The Play It Again catcher fired a throw to third that sailed into left field. Grant took off for homeplate as the left-fielder got to the ball and threw home. That throw got past the catcher, so Grant was safe.
The catcher corralled the ball and, trying to get Greiner advancing at third, threw it back in that direction but, again, the ball ends up down the left-field line. Again, the left fielder hustled after the ball, retrieved it and fired home. This time, however, the throw hit Greiner in the back as he approached the plate. He crossed home safely, and Bryant led 10-9.
Given another chance to come back, Play It Again managed only a one-out walk against Bryant right-hander Cade Drennan, the fifth Sox hurler of the game. A pop that Drennan caught himself ended the wild contest, improving the Black Sox to 27-6-1.
Bryant plays two pool games on Friday, taking on 417 Baseball at New Covenant Academy at 11:15 a.m., then taking on Nixa High School in Nixa, Mo., at 4:30 p.m.
In Thursday’s game, Scott Schmidt had three hits for the Sox. Jake Wright and Drennan had two each. Play It Again matched Bryant’s 11 hits but picked up eight walks while the Sox benefitted from three errors by the Wichita team.
Bryant grabbed the lead initially in the first when Chambers drew a walk and scored on Wright’s double to right.
Myers Buck pitched around a two-out walk and a single in the bottom of the first. In the second, Wright took over on the mound and walked the first two he faced. Schmidt was called to the mound, but he issued a walk to load the bases. On a force at second, Play It Again tied the game. Another force out produced a go-ahead run.
With two out in the top of the third, Wright drew a free pass then scored when Drennan ripped a double to left, tying the game at 2.
Schmidt allowed a one-out single in the bottom of the third, but the Sox turned an inning-ending doubleplay.
The big top of the fourth for Bryant started with base hits from Schmidt and Buck. Grayson Prince was struck by a 2-0 pitch, loading the bases for Greiner, who cleared them with a double to right.
Chambers singled in Greiner then Wright burned the centerfielder for a triple that made it 7-2. Drennan singled him in to cap the outburst.
A double and a single had Play It Again in position to whittle on the lead in the bottom of the inning. The next two batters were plunked, forcing in a run before a double drove in two to make it 8-5.
Greiner relieved for the Sox but a walk filled the bags again. The side-winding right-hander came back to retire the next two on strikes and a pop. But an infield hit plated another run as the lead dwindled to two runs.
Matthew Sandidge reached on an error for the Sox in the top of the fifth. Chambers was struck by a pitch with two away, but both were stranded.
Greiner surrendered a walk and a double to start the bottom of the fifth. He came back, however, with a pair of strikeouts and, when Grant flagged down a liner to center, the Sox were out of the inning.
Brandon Hoover was plunked with one out in the top of the sixth. Schmidt followed with a double, but both wound up being left aboard as Play It Again escaped.
Drennan came to the mound in the bottom of the sixth and the Wichita team used a one-out walk and three consecutive hits with two down to grab the lead, 9-8, setting up Bryant’s unusual comeback in the seventh.