Seven-run first sends Bryant 14’s on the way to first State tourney win

BENTON — A seven-run first inning highlighted by Zach Jackson’s bases-loaded double got things rolling as[more] the Bryant Blue League All-Stars opened the 14-year-old Babe Ruth State Tournament with a 15-5 romp over the All-Stars from Clark County (Arkadelphia) on Friday at Bernard Holland Park.

Bryant scored in five of the seven innings with Connor Tatum coming through with a pair of RBI triples.

A trio of Bryant pitchers kept Clark County at bay with Connor Alliston wrapping up with 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief.

Bryant is set to play McGehee today at 3:30 in a second-round game.

The Blue League 14's are managed by Mark Kehrees with assistance from Seth Doxey and Blain Jackson. Team members include Alliston, Bailey Bowers, Luke Brantley, Chase Brooks, Daniel Darbonne, Zach Jackson, Nick Kehrees, Zach Knapp, Mike Martindale, Caleb McElyea, Liam Miller and Tatum.

Bryant benefitted from early wildness from the Clark County starter Hunter Lowes, who walked the first four batters, Tatum, Brantley, Martindale and Alliston then hit Miller with a pitch, producing a 2-0 lead.

That set the stage for Jackson’s blow. And when Kehrees’ drive to right was misplayed, Clark County made a pitching change, trailing 5-0. Bowers greeted the new hurler, Colby Shepherd with a base hit, after Kehrees had been thrown out at second trying to steal.

Darbonne bounced into a force at second but stole second and went to third on an error. Another miscue on a ball hit to second by Tatum got Darbonne home, completing the seven-run outburst.

In the bottom of the inning, Clark County took advantage of a trio of walks with hits by Bailey Goza and Parker Herron to trim three runs off the Bryant lead. In turn, Martindale opened the second with a double and, with one out, Miller singled him home to make it 8-3.

Miller, who came on in relief to get out of the first, worked around a double and a hit batsman in the bottom of the second. His teammates responded by tacking on two more runs top of the third. Darbonne’s one-out double was followed by Tatum’s first triple, a drive into the gap in right-center. Tatum scored moments later.

Hits by Parker Herron, Alex Vole and Lowes produced a run for Clark County in the bottom of the inning. A second run scored when Bryant turned a doubleplay. Jordan Sanford walked then Alliston took over on the mound and, after an initial walk, got the final out of the inning.

He would go on to work around a walk and a single in the fourth and, after a 1-2-3 fifth, overcame a two-out double by Parker Whitson in the sixth.

To complete the blowout, Bryant scored twice in the fifth and three times in the sixth. Bowers doubled to start the fifth. Brooks reached on an error and Tatum smacked one inside the line to right for his second triple.

The seventh began with McElyea getting plunked by a pitch from Cameron Brashears, the third Clark County pitcher. Kehrees swatted a single to right then Bowers was struck by a 1-1 delivery. A wild pitch allowed McElyea to score and, with two down, Brantley singled in Kehrees. He and Bowers then worked a double steal to make it 15-5.

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