It’s the long way ‘round but the Bryant Black Sox began their trek through the loser’s bracket of the 2020 Senior American Legion State Tournament to what they hope will be their fourth consecutive State championship, with a 14-0 ousting of Mountain Home Lockeroom on Thursday afternoon at Bryant High School Field.
Game two of their journey begins at 5:30 p.m., on Saturday against Crossett, a 10-0 loser to Sheridan on Thursday.
Cade Drennan popped a two-run homer after belting a pair of RBI doubles to give him five runs batted in for the Sox. Aaron Morgan had two hits.
Meanwhile, Blaine Sears blanked Mountain Home on three hits, working into the fifth then giving way to Tyler Bates, who finished, allowing a two-out infield hit in the bottom of the sixth.
The Sox scored three in the first, three in the third, three in the fourth and five in the top of the sixth to make it a run-rule lead.
Sears struck out three and walked one.
Drennan doubled in the first two runs after Noah Davis and Logan Catton had walked in the opening frame. Slade Renfrow, a courtesy runner for Drennan, advanced to third when Peyton Dillon grounded out then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Mountain Home lead-off hitter Gage Harris doubled to left center to start the bottom of the inning, went to third on John Prinner’s grounder to second but was stranded as Sears started a stretch in which he set down nine in a row.
In the top of the third, Catton was struck by a pitch with one out. Drennan chased him home with his second double. Dillon walked and, after Mountain Home starter Satch Harris gave way for Tyler Smith, Coby Greiner hit into a force at second. He and Renfrow, at third, worked a double steal to make it 5-0. Greiner drew a pickoff throw and not only stayed in the rundown long enough for Renfrow to score but he wound up getting back to first.
Greiner wound up stealing second later. He scored on Morgan’s single to left center.
In the top of the fourth, Logan White slapped a single to right and Davis drew another walk. Ryan Riggs got a sacrifice bunt down and when the throw to first by Mountain Home catcher Garrett Steelman went awry, White scored.
With runners at second and third, Smith was able to retire the next two batters including Drennan for the only time on the night. But Dillon smacked a double to right center to drive in a pair, making it 6-0.
Mountain Home broke up Sears’ streak with a looping single to center by Chase Orf to open the bottom of the fourth. Sears fanned Prinner then issued his only walk to Tyler Guffey. Dawson Tabor’s grounder was misplayed, and the bases were loaded. But Sears got Steelman to bounce back to the mound. A quick throw home ended the inning.
Morgan and Brayden Lester singled to chase Smith off the bump in the top of the fifth. Lefty Jim Strider relieved and induced a doubleplay ball to send it to the bottom of the inning.
Sears gave up a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth. After getting Will Uchtman to fly to center, Bates was brought on to relieve by Sox manager Darren Hurt. Bates got Orf to bounce out to Catton at third.
Riggs walked to open Bryant’s sixth. Catton doubled him to third then a wild pitch made it 10-0. Drennan followed with his two-run shot to left to increase the margin.
With one out, Trey Jordan became Mountain Home’s fourth pitcher. He was greeded by Greiner’s single to right. Morgan was drilled on an 0-1 pitch then Connor Martin walked to load the bases.
With two down, Davis was plunked, forcing in a run. Riggs capped the onslaught with an RBI single.
Bates retired the first two in the bottom of the inning and, after the infield hit by Strider, he fanned Will Gross to end the game.