NEW ORLEANS, La. — After a splendid regular season and a scintillating run to Zone and State tournament championships, the[more] Bryant Black Sox’ star-crossed trip to the Senior American Legion MidSouth Regional Tournament came to an abrupt conclusion today at Jesuit John Ryan Stadium.
For just the second time this season, the Sox were shut out. Right-hander Zach Loomis, signed to play at New Mexico Junior College this fall, blanked the Sox on six hits to out-duel Bryant’s Nate Rutherford, who surrendered just five knocks. Loomis and the Piedmont Sandlot team of Edmond, Okla., a perennial national power among Legion teams, ended Bryant’s season with a 3-0 victory.
The loss came on the heels of a water-logged one-run loss to the Hub City Bombers of Hattiesburg, Miss., on Thursday.
Bryant finishes the season 33-7.
"It all happened so fast," commented Sox manager Darren Hurt. "We just never got anything going. (Loomis) was a good pitcher but he wasn't — it wasn't that he was striking us out. We just hit everything at them.
The final score was on the board after the second inning. Bryant threatened in the top of the first when Tyler Brown and Jordan Taylor each singled with one out but the Oklahoma team turned a doubleplay to end the inning.
A base hit by Zac Cobble opened the bottom of the frame. Quinn Walbergh slapped a single to right to send Cobble to third and when Walbergh stole second, an errant throw allowed Cobble to score. Walbergh hustled to third and, with one out, scored on a grounder to second by Kyle Lacy.
After a five-error game on Thursday, that throw was the lone miscue of Friday’s game but the resulting run was all Piedmont needed as the Sox struggled offensively.
Loomis worked a 1-2-3 second and, in the home half, his teammates added the final run of the game. Jackson Matthews drew a lead-off walk and took second on a wild pitch. Another errant delivery allowed him to take third but he held there when Drew Umbro beat out an infield hit. Rutherford got Daniel Costello ground into a doubleplay but Matthews scored on the play to make it 3-0.
Rutherford allowed just two hits the rest of the way. He worked around a two-out walk to Matthews in the fourth. In the fifth, Austin Peck beat out a bunt for a single with one out but the Sox turned a doubleplay to end the inning.
Peck singled to left in the bottom of the eighth but got no further than first as Rutherford and the Sox retired 10 of the last 11 batters.
"We got great pitching," Hurt asserted. "Even in the first inning, the hits they got were just groundballs, seeing-eye singles.
"I think we gave up two earned runs for the tournament and went 0-2," he noted. "Our pitching was so good. We ought to be in the winners bracket. We're as good as anybody down here, if not better. I'm not so sure we're not the best team in the tournament and here we are going home.
The Sox, however, were having little luck with Loomis who pitched around a one-out single by Ozzie Hurt in the third and a one-out hit by Landon Pickett in the fourth. He struck Hayden Daniel with a pitch in the fifth.
Brown opened the sixth with a single to right but, an out later, a doubleplay ended the inning.
Bryant went down in order in the seventh then put two runners aboard in the same inning for the first time since the first when Hurt was hit by a pitch with one out and Hunter Mayall drew a walk. The Oklahoma right-hander induced grounders by Brown and Taylor that squelched the threat.
In the top of the ninth, Marcus Wilson gave the Sox a chance with a bunt single with one out but he was stranded as Loomis closed out the 108-pitch performance with a strikeout and a fly to center.
Asked if the 10 day layoff between the finish of the State tourney and the Regional may have been a factor, Hurt pondered, "It didn't help. We were kind of rolling pretty good. We won District and State and it kind of happened pretty quick. We gave them some time off after State then they came back and hit three days in a row before we left. We were not sharp offensively. I don't know what happened but we just did not get it done. It wasn't the same team."
The game marked the end of the Legion careers for Tyler Brown, Hunter Mayall, Landon Pickett, Josh Pultro and Jordan Taylor. Mayall will be a sophomore at Henderson State University while Pickett returns to Southern Arkansas University as a redshirt freshman. Brown has agreed to play with the new Pulaski Tech baseball team while Taylor heads to UCA and Pultro to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.