Senior Sox suffer gut-wrenching loss in tourney opener but bounce back to oust Little Rock Blues

TEXARKANA — The Sheridan Yellowjackets scored unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth and in[more] the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win over the Bryant Black Sox at the Zone 4 Senior American Legion tournament on Saturday.

The Sox came back in the evening to edge the Little Rock Post 1 Blues, 5-3, to keep their hopes of a return to the Senior State Tournament alive. They are set to take on Little Rock Express in an elimination game at 1 p.m. today. Sheridan faces Texarkana in the winners bracket final at 4, with the winner advancing to the championship round and clinching a spot at State. With a win over Express, Bryant would then get a chance to qualify in a game against the loser between Texarkana and Sheridan to be played at 7 tonight.

The championship round commences on Monday at 5 p.m., with a winner-take-all final to follow, if necessary.

Bryant 5, Little Rock Blues 3

The Sox built a 3-0 lead over the first four innings then led 5-1 before Little Rock rallied in the seventh. Jordan Taylor came on in relief of starter Tyler Brown to get out of the seventh-inning jam and close out the victory with 2 2/3 innings of one-hit relief.

The Sox were limited to just five hits by Little Rock right-hander Brandon Schmidt, who walked four and struck out nine in eight innings.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third when Zach Graddy led off for Bryant with a single to right. Ozzie Hurt sacrificed him to second and, aft er a single by Hunter Mayall, Graddy scored when Brown got a squeeze bunt down and beat it out for a single.

And when Taylor’s grounder to short was booted, Mayall came around to make it 2-0.

Brown had allowed a one-out single to Jonathan Thompson in the first inning but the Sox had turned a doubleplay on a grounder to short by Tray Bell to end the inning. Including Bell, Brown went on to retire 10 in a row before Schmidt reached on an error to start the fifth inning.

Bryant had tacked on a run in the bottom of the fourth when Josh Pultro walked, Marcus Wilson sacrificed and a pair of wild pitches allowed him to score.

When Schmidt reached on the error, Joey Abraham followed with a single. The Sox turned another doubleplay but, with Schmidt at third, a passed ball allowed the first Little Rock run.

Bryant increased the lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Mayall reached on a miscue then stole second. Brown got a sacrifice bunt down and reached safely when it was mishandled by Schmidt. Mayall scored on the play and Brown wound up at second. A passed ball moved him to third as Taylor drew a pass then Landon Pickett cracked an RBI single.

Brown retired the side around a two-out walk to Cole Weber in the top of the sixth but after the Sox failed to score in the bottom of the inning, the Blues rallied. Bell singled and, with one out, so did Abraham. After Taylor took the mound, both moved up as Garner grounded out to Tyler Nelson at short. And both scored when Walter Bass’ grounder was misplayed.

But Taylor struck out Daniel Messirer to strand a runner at second and commenced to duel with Schmidt the rest of the way.

Little Rock made one last shot at tying the game in the top of the ninth. Bell singled and took sdcond when Schmidt tapped back to the mound. Taylor fanned Abraham but Garner reached on an error to put the potential tying runs on board. But Taylor got Bass to line out to Mayall in left to finish it.

Sheridan 4, Bryant 3

Nip and tuck from the outset, Bryant grabbed a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh. Mayall walked, Brown sacrificed him to second and Taylor singled him home.

Sheridan’s Jake Crenshaw beat out a bunt single to start the bottom of the seventh but Nelson, the Bryant starter, got out of the inning unscathed with the help of Hayden Lessenberry, his catcher, who threw Crenshaw out when he tried to steal second.

Sheridan’s Landon Huggins, a lefty on in relief of lefty starter Luke Nannemann, walked Lessenberry and gave up a two-out single by Hurt in the eighth but both were stranded.

In the bottom of the inning, Zach Perkins singled and Grady Finley, sacrificing, was able to get on as well when the bunt was misplayed. A passed ball allowed them to move up the second and third then Josh Miller lifted a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game.

Tryce Schalchlin, on in relief of Nelson, struck out Chase Davis and got Huggins to ground out to second to force Sheridan to strand Finley at third.

All the Sox could muster in the top of the ninth was a two-out single by Pickett. In the bottom of the inning, Crenshaw lined a single to left and Nick Ware sacrificed him to second. Alec Pender was walked intentionally to set up a force but Jake Smith’s grounder was misplayed and Crenshaw came around with the game-winning run.

Bryant had scored first in the game. In the opening inning, Mayall reached second on an errant throw. He advanced to third on a groundout by Brown and, after Taylor walked, scored on a sacrifice fly by Pickett.

Nelson retired the Yellowjackets in the bottom of the inning after Ware led off with a single.

Bryant put two aboard in the second when Pultro walked and Lessenberry singled but couldn’t add to the lead. And, in the second, Sheridan plated a pair of runs to take the lead. Finley singled and Miller walked to set the table. An error allowed them to move to second and third then a single to center by Nannemann made it a 2-1 lead.

It stayed that way until Bryant tied it in the top of the fifth. A walk to Mayall with one out got the inning going. He took second on a passed ball, then third. Brown’s bunt not only got Mayall home but went for a single. Taylor walked but Nannemann got out of the jam.

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