SHERIDAN — Win number 30 for the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team did[more] not come easily. A three-run third by the Sheridan Yellowjackets had the Sox trailing 3-2. But Bryant rallied to tie it in the fifth and took the lead in the sixth.
Young right-hander Zach Jackson pitched splendidly — only one of the three runs in the third was earned — and picked up the win with relief help in the seventh from Hayden Daniel who earned the save.
The win clinched the top seed for the Sox at this weekend’s Zone 4 Tournament in Sheridan. They’ll get a first-round bye in their quest to return to the Senior Legion State Tournament to defend their 2012 title. The State tourney will be in Mountain Home starting July 26.
The decisive run in the game was scored Zach Graddy on a sacrifice fly by Ozzie Hurt. Graddy had singled with one out, moved to second when Korey Thompson walked and to third on a base hit by Trevor Ezell. On Hurt’s sacrifice fly to left, Thompson tagged and went to third. Ezell left early from first as the Sox tried to steal another run but he was caught in the rundown and tagged up before Thompson could get to the plate.
Jackson allowed five hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out five in six innings of work. He pitched around a single and a hit batsman in the first then retired the side in order in the second after the Sox had struck for two runs in the top half.
Tyler Nelson tripled to open the inning. He held on Chase Tucker’s grounder to third then Daniel got a bunt down trying to squeeze in the run. But Sheridan pitcher Keaton Ramsey fielded the ball and tossed to catcher Tadd Daggett in time for the tag to retire Nelson.
A single by Graddy, however, kept the inning going then Thompson drilled a double to left-center that plated both runners.
In the third, Marcus Wilson walked and Hayden Lessenberry singled but Ramsey pitched out of the jam to keep it 2-0.
Sheridan’s third started with a walk to Garrett Williams who took second on a wild pitch. Daggett’s roller to third drew an errant throw to first and Williams scored the first run.
Ramsey grounded out as Daggett moved to third then Chase Davis walked and stole second. Wyatt Daggett then poked an RBI single to right to tie the game. Another error allowed Lathan Wylie to reach base bringing up Evan Thompson with the bases loaded. His single to center plated Davis with the go-ahead run.
With the infield in, Tyler McKinzie hit a grounder to short. Hurt’s throw to the plate got the second out on a force then Jackson got Brady Bibb to fly to Tucker in right to end the inning.
Ramsey pitched around a one-out error in the top of the fourth but Jackson got back in the groove and worked around a one-out single in the home half, fanning Williams and Ramsey.
Bryant’s fifth began with a single by Hurt. With one out, Lessenberry and Nelson walked to load the bases. Tucker hit a grounder to Wylie at short. Hurt scored then a throw to third nicked Lessenberry to end the inning.
Wylie singled with one out in the bottom of the fifth and was awarded second on a balk call. But Jackson didn’t let it phase him as he struck out Thompson and got McKinzie to ground to Hurt at short to keep it tied.
And, after the Sox took the lead in the top of the sixth, the right-hander retired five in a row before giving up a two-out walk in the bottom of the seventh. Daniel relieved and issued a free pass as well, putting the potential tying and winning runs aboard. And they moved up on a wild pitch so both were in scoring position when Daniel got Thompson to roll one towards Hurt at short. With his momentum taking him that way and the runner from third trying to score, Hurt threw to Graddy at the plate in time for the tag to end the ballgame in dramatic fashion.