Senior Sox take first two bracket games, reach semifinals

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team will tackle the Midwest Stix on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., with a shot at playing for the championship of the 2017 Mid America Classic at 2:45 against the winner of an earlier semifinal between Aces Baseball and Perfect Timing 17 Blue.

The Sox advanced through bracket play after going 3-0 in their pool. They won another tight contest, 3-2, over the Northwest Arkansas Bombers on Saturday then followed up with their biggest offensive outburst in a 15-4 win over Sandlot 18U in the quarterfinals.

In the early victory, Logan Allen had three hits and Scott Schmidt drove in two with a pair of knocks. Alex Shurtleff also had two hits.

On the mound, Seth Tucker surrendered two second-inning runs then held the Bombers without another run through six innings.

In the meantime, the Sox overcame the 2-0 deficit with three in the fourth. Boston Heil relieved Tucker in the seventh and closed out the win for a save.

The Sox game-winner rally began with a one-out single to Aaron Orender. Alex Shurtleff then battled to a 13th pitch, which he lined to center for a double. Schmidt’s double chased them home, tying the game.

Myers Buck drew a walk and, after a pitching change, Allen drilled a two-out single to center to make it 3-2.

Tucker pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth then held the Bombers despite a lead-off walk and a two-out single in the top of the sixth.

Heil took over in the seventh but an error gave the Bombers some life. A force at second was followed by a game-ending doubleplay on a grounder to Schmidt at second.

A single, double, another single and an error helped NWA post its two runs. Tucker got the final two outs forcing the Bombers to strand runners at second and third.

Shurtleff and Schmidt singled in the bottom of the second but were stranded.

Tucker settled in and retired the side in order in the third, overcame a hit batsman and a walk in the fourth before his teammates gave him a lead.

In the quarterfinal romp, the Sox fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first but answered with eight runs in the bottom of the inning. A six-run third put them in run-rule territory.

Allen had three hits, four RBIs and three runs scored to lead Bryant’s 14-hit attack. Three of his hits were doubles. Tucker, Dylan Hurt and Schmidt each had two hits and two RBIs. Grayson Prince pitching in with two hits.

Shurtleff went the distance on the mound. Only one of the four runs that Sandlot scored were earned. In five innings, Shurtleff allowed six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

Allen’s first double opened the floodgates in the bottom of the first. With one out, Tucker tripled. Hurt got a squeeze bunt down to make it 2-2, then reached when the ball was misplayed.

Orender made it 3-2 with a triple then scored as well on Shurtleff’s sacrifice fly to right. And when the ball was misplayed in the outfield, Shurtleff was aboard.

Schmidt singled and Buck was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Prince who singled in a run. Allen’s second double made it 7-2.

Jake East picked up an RBI with a grounder to short as Prince scored to cap the inning.

Sandlot made a bid to cut into the lead in the second with a single and an error putting runners at first and second. With two down, Sandlot tried to score on a single to  Buck in left. But the Sox worked the relay perfectly to nail the runner at the plate trying to score from second, Buck to Tucker to Hurt.

The big third-inning explosion began with a walk to Buck. Prince singled then Allen belted his third double to drive in both runners.

East line a single to right, taking second when the Sandlot outfielder missed the cutoff man. Tucker singled in Allen then East scored on an errant relay. After Hurt singled, the next two batters were retired. A passed ball made it second and third for Schmidt who lined a single to left to drive both home, making it 14-2.

Sandlot used a walk, a single and a pair of errors to score twice in the top of the fourth. Bryant, in turn, tacked one on in the bottom of the inning. Allen’s fly to left was misplayed. He reached second on the error, took third on East’s grounder to short then scored on a two-out knock by Hurt.

That just left, Shurtleff and the Bryant defense to take care of things in the top of the fifth to close out the win and advance.

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