Photos courtesy of Jason Greiner
OMAHA, Neb. — The Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team appeared to be on their way to their third win in as many games at a classic hosted by Creighton Prep of Omaha on Friday evening, having established a 4-1 lead through five innings. But the Rapid City, S.D., Hardhats rallied to tie the game in the top of the sixth and, after the Sox regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the inning, the South Dakota team erupted for four runs in the top of the seventh on the way to an 8-5 win.
It was just the fourth setback for the Sox in 22 games this season. They take on Cheyenne, Wyo., on Saturday at 10 a.m., then play Creighton Prep, the American Legion World Series runner-up from last year. Both Bryant and Creighton were knocked out of the World Series in 2017 by Henderson, Nev. (Las Vegas).
The Sox made the most of their six hits, two by Brandon Hoover, who knocked in a pair as did Logan Chambers.
Scott Schmidt started on the mound for Bryant, going five innings and holding the Hardhats to one run through five innings but, after starting the sixth, couldn’t get an out. Logan Catton finished up the sixth and surrendered another run as he started the seventh. Jake Wright and Boston Heil came in to help in the seventh but couldn’t wriggle off the hook before the Hardhats had scored four times.
The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With one out, Catton was hit by a pitch and, with two down, Cade Drennan reached on an error. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position for Hoover, who beat out an infield hit to get Catton home.
But, moments later, Hoover was picked off first to end the inning.
Schmidt, after working around a single in the first retired the side in order in the second and, in turn, the Sox tacked on with walks to Matthew Sandidge and Brayden Lester, a bunt single by Konnor Clontz and an RBI walk to Coby Greiner.
Chambers delivered a sacrifice fly as Lester scored but Clontz, trying to tag at second and make it to third was thrown out. And, wouldn’t you know it? Catton followed with a single.
Rapid City got out of the first-and-third jam to keep it 3-0.
Schmidt, however, continued to set down the Hardhats in the process of retiring nine in a row. A two-out single in the fourth ended the streak then a double made it 3-1.
Bryant got that run back in the home fifth. Catton was drilled with a 2-2 delivery, took second on a wild pitch and third on Drennan’s groundout. Hoover singled him in.
An error opened the door for Rapid City in the top of the sixth. A pair of singles followed, loading the bases. Catton relieved Schmidt and got the first out on a liner to Clontz at third. But a double cleared the bases and tied the game before Catton got the last two outs.
Gamely, the Sox snapped the tie in the bottom of the sixth. Peyton Dillon walked and, between back-to-back strikeouts, stole second. That put him in scoring position for Chambers who drilled a double to right to make it 5-4.
A single and a sacrifice put the tying run in scoring position for the Hardhats in the top of the seventh. Another knock put runners at the corners. Wright, who had relieved after the lead-off single, gave way to Heil but he walked the first man he faced to load the bases.
The Sox made a bid to end the inning there when Heil induced a grounder to Chambers at short. They got the force at second, but the batter beat the relay to first as the tying run scored.
A two-run single gave Rapid City the lead. An error allowed another run to score, making it 8-5.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Sox were unable to muster a rally as they were set down in order by the third South Dakota pitcher.