Senior Sox sneak into bracket play, blast a top seed

NIXA, Mo. — The Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team barely snuck into the championship bracket of the Mid-American Premier Tournament, based in Springfield, Mo., as they went 3-1 in pool play. That meant they were paired up with one of the top seeds from the various pools, the Arkansas Express, which swept its pool by outscoring four opponents, 35-5, despite being a team of 15- and 16-year-olds.

Underdogs in that regard, the Sox came out and, behind right-hander Logan Grant’s six-hit shutout, ended the Express run at the event with a stunning 10-0 win in six innings.

It was Bryant’s 30thwin of the season and lifted the Sox into the semifinals of bracket play on Sunday at 11:15 a.m., against Perfect Timing 17 Blue of Springdale, a 5-4 winner over the Sedalia, Mo., Travelers in bracket play on Saturday.

The Sox, fresh from winning their first championship of the Keith Hagan Memoial All-American Schowcase, were led offensively by Matthew Sandidge who had three hits. Grayson Prince had two knocks and four runs batted in while Logan Chambers, Jake Wright and Cade Drennan added two hits each.

Grant walked one and struck out three. All six of the hits for the Express were singles.

Arkansas Express made its most serious threat to score in the first inning. In the top of the inning, the Sox had been unable to take advantage of walks to Wright, Brandon Hoover and Scott Schmidt. With one out in the home half, the Express had runners at first and third after a single by Trace Shoup.

With one out, Grant picked off the lead runner, Jason Lazo, at third. Shoup, thinking he saw third base uncovered, rounded second and headed that way. But Chambers, the Bryant shortstop, got to the bag first, taking the throw and making the tag to end the inning.

In the third, White greeted reliever Payton Heinley with a double to center. Drennan’s infield hit put runners at the corners. Wright scored when Hoover grounded to second, resulting in a force out of Drennan at second.

With two away, Myers Buck hit a grounder to short but Lazo was unable to record an out. Sandidge followed with single to fill the bags for Prince, who knocked in two with his hit.

Singles by Ben Keefauver and Heinley went for naught in the bottom of the third.

Singles by Chambers and Wright opened Bryant’s fourth. Drennan sacrificed them to second and third then, after Hoover walked, Schmidt came through with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.

Heinley singled with one out in the home fourth but the Sox turned an inning-ending doubleplay.

Sandidge and Coby Greiner each singled in the top of the fifth but it remained 4-0.

Grant continued to set down Express batters. They went three-up, three-down in the home fifth.

Bryant made it a blowout with six runs in the top of the sixth. Hoover’s bloop single to right opened the floodgates. Schmidt singled and Buck walked to load the bases. Sandidge lofted a shallow fly to left that fell in for an RBI single.

Prince then doubled to left, driving home two runs.

The inning continued with a walk to Greiner by a new Express pitcher, Matthew Holzhammer. Chambers singled in a run and Wright picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly to center.

And when Cade Drennan’s single got Greiner in from third, the Sox had a 10-0 lead.

Holzhammer opened the bottom of the sixth with a grounder into center for a single. He took second when J Hardin grounded out to Buck at third. Garrett Fitts beat out a bunt single then the Express tried to steal a run to keep alive in the contest. But Fitts was picked off by Grant as Holzhammer held at third.

But, as Grant toed the rubber and looked in for a sign, Holzhammer headed home, trying a straight steal. But Grant threw to Wright, his catcher, in time for the tag, which ended the game.

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