MOUNTAIN HOME — The Bryant 14-year-old All-Stars’ bid to qualify for the Babe Ruth World Series as the[more] Southwest Regional Tournament champion got off to a good start Tuesday night.
The Stars grabbed a 2-0 lead when Connor Tatum walked, Liam Miller drilled a one-out double to left and Zach Jackson chased both home with a shot to left for another double.
But, after that, Bryant was shutout on one hit the rest of the game and the host Mountain Home team, which Bryant had defeated 16-5 in the winners bracket final on Sunday, rallied for an 8-2 victory, spoiling Bryant’s designs on a trip to Murray, Utah, for the World Series.
The Bryant team, managed by Mark Kehrees with assistance from Seth Doxey and Blain Jackson, includes Connor Alliston, Bailey Bowers, Luke Brantley, Chase Brooks, Daniel Darbonne, Jackson, Nick Kehrees, Zach Knapp, Mike Martindale, Caleb McElyea, Miller and Tatum.
Mountain Home, after losing to Bryant on Sunday, ousted Wharton, Texas, 16-8, on Monday then turned around and hit Bryant with an 8-6 loss that set up the winner-take-all final on Tuesday.
Bryant threatened to add to its lead in the second when, with two out, Kehrees singled and stole second. Tatum drew a walk but both were stranded. It was the last time in the game the Stars were able to put two runners on base in the same inning.
Still, the 2-0 lead held until Mountain Home broke through against Brantley, the Bryant starter, in the third inning. In the bottom of the inning, Jackson drew a one-out walk but got no further than first.
Brantley pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth to keep it tied. He struck out two in the inning including the final out. In Bryant’s half, Martindale drew a lead-off walk but, with one out, was forced at second on a grounder to short. Tatum’s liner back to the mound was caught to end the inning.
Mountain Home grabbed its first lead in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs on a double, a single, a pair of Bryant errors and another hit before Tatum, the third pitcher of the inning for the Stars, was able to induce a groundout to send it to the bottom of the inning.
But a new Mountain Home pitcher set Bryant down in order in the home half then, after working around a one-out error on a grounder to second by Bowers in the sixth, retired the side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh to finish it.
Mountain Home tacked on a run in the sixth on a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly. Two in the top of the seventh after a pair of two-out errors extended the inning, completed the scoring.