When the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team was in the throes of what developed into a 2-9 start this season, they played a doubleheader in Russellville. After winning the first game, the second game was deadlocked 3-3 going into the bottom of the sixth. Russellville had the bases loaded and two out when a flyball appeared to be the end of the inning. But it was misplayed in the outfield and two runs scored, leading to a 5-3 victory for the Pirates.
In the return engagement on Thursday night, a nine-inning contest at Bryant High School Field, the two teams were again deadlocked 1-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. This time, Bryant was threatening with two on and two out. Bryant’s Gage Stark tagged a 1-1 delivery from Russellville lefty Cole Hathcote and it looked every bit like the third out as Russellville centerfielder Ben Jones eased to his left a bit and, with a little crow hop, appeared to haul in the liner.
But he dropped it.
The inning continued as the Sox took a 2-1 lead then went on to score seven more runs in the inning on their way to an 11-4 victory, which wrapped up their regular season. Bryant heads into the Senior Legion State Tournament next Tuesday at 16-11-1 after that horrendous start.
They’ll open State action at home at 8 p.m., against Cabot.
Offensively, the Sox were led by catcher Cade Drennan and shortstop Noah Davis. Each had three hits. Davis had a double and a triple while Drennan doubled twice and drove in four runs. His three-run double capped off the eight-run sixth.
Bryant manager Darren Hurt used the opportunity of a nine-inning game to get work in for four of his pitchers, Coby Greiner, Peyton Dillon, Josh Turner and Slade Renfrow. Dillon picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief.
Until that fateful sixth, the game was pitchers’ duel between Greiner and Russellville’s big right-hander Eli Thomas.
The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on doubles by Davis and Drennan.
The Pirates tied it in the second when Jones singled but was forced out at second on a grounder to short. Ty Hipps, the new baserunner, went to second on an errant pickoff throw, stole third and scored on a bad throw.
A trio of walks loaded the bases for the Pirates in the fourth, but Greiner got Brandon Bunton to fly to Aaron Morgan in right to keep it 1-1.
Russellville got a runner to second with one out in the top of the fifth. Cole Dawson tried to get to third when Blake Chambers grounder to Davis at short but, for the second time in the game, Davis threw him out at third. Moments later, Drennan threw out Chambers when he tried to steal second.
In the sixth, Caleb Tramel beheld a one-out double then Dillon walked Thomas. But he got out of the jam by getting Jones to fly to Blaine Sears in left before Hipps fouled out to Brayden Lester at first.
The Sox’ game-breaking uprising started with one-out walks to Drennan and Dillon, spelling the end of Thomas’ moundwork. Hathcote relieved and, after picking up an out on a foul pop, appeared to be out of the jam on Stark’s drive to center.
Then the floodgates opened. Lester singled in a run then Morgan plated two with a liner up the middle. He advanced to second on an errant relay throw to the plate. Sears beat out an infield hit, and Morgan scored on an errant late throw to first.
A single by Davis and a walk to Logan Catton loaded the bases. Drennan then greeted the third Pirates’ pitcher, Ty Toland, with a double down the leftfield line that cleared the bases.
In the seventh, Russellville again lost a runner trying to reach third on a grounder to Davis at short. But, with two down, Chambers singled to right, sending Dawson to third. A balk allowed the run to score before Turner got out of the inning.
It got a little more complicated first. Jordan Metcalf grounded to Catton at third, who turned to tag the oncoming runner, Chambers, who veered out of the baseline to avoid him. It figured that Chambers would be out, but he was ruled safe despite Hurt’s protests.
Nevertheless, Turner got Tramel to fly to right to end the inning.
Bryant got that run back in the bottom of the seventh when Greiner reached second on an errant throw to first on his grounder to short. A wild pitch allowed him to take third then he came home when Stark grounded out to short.
The Pirates scored two in the top of the eighth. Thomas doubled, Jones singled then a run scored on a groundout. The second came in on a two-out single by Toland.
Davis tripled to open the bottom of the eighth and scored on Catton’s grounder to the right side to make it 11-4.
Renfrow needed just six pitches to retire the Pirates in the top of the ninth.