NEW ORLEANS — The Bryant Black Sox had a few more games they wanted to play. And they wanted to play them in Shelby, N.C., at the Senior American Legion World Series. The same place their season concluded a year ago.
And they were on the verge of getting there, a win away. In the championship game of the Mid-South Regional Tournament at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, the Sox faced the Gauthier-Amedee Wombats (sponsored by a law firm) of nearby Gonzales, champions of Louisiana, who earned the right to play for the title by knocking off the Tupelo 49ers, the highly-regarded Mississippi champion, 7-2 earlier on Sunday.
To the winner went the trip to North Carolina.
In 57 games this summer, the Bryant Black Sox were never shut out. But, in game number 58, Gonzales lefty Austin Bankert blanked them for six innings and, after hitting Scott Schmidt to start the seventh, gave way to right-hander Preston Thrash, who struck out the next three batters to complete the game, as the Wombats made a first-run inning hold up for a 1-0 win.
Bryant actually out-hit Gauthier-Ademee, 5-3, as the Sox’ right-hander Will McEntire went the distance, walking just one — in that first inning — and striking out six.
In a game in which it seemed that every time someone got on base, it was a potential rally, the Sox just couldn’t get the clutch hit they needed and had been getting all season.
They finish their phenomenal season 46-11-1.
In the bottom of the first, McEntire and the Sox had set down the first two batters. Zane Zeppuhar then singled to left. Zeppuhar stole second as McEntire and Jack Merrifield battled. The Bryant right-hander got two strikes in to start Merrifield off, but he wound up drawing a walk that brought up Reed Babin.
On a 2-1 delivery, Babin stroked a single to right to drive in Zeppuhar with what turned out to be the lone run of the game.
McEntire allowed just one hit the rest of the game, a lead-off single by Brayden Caskey in the bottom of the third. After Babin’s RBI single, he and the Sox’ defense retired 16 of 18 batters. The only other base-runner came on an error in the bottom of the sixth.
After falling behind, the Sox made some noise in the top of the second. With two down, Schmidt laced a single to left and Matthew Sandidge lined a base hit to center. Peyton Dillon’s grounder to left loaded the bases. Coby Greiner made a bid at a hit with a grounder up the middle but Thrash, at shortstop, got to the ball and it resulted in an inning-ending force at second.
Logan Catton reached on an error with one out in the top of the third but was stranded.
Myers Buck led off the fourth with a single, took second on a sacrifice by Schmidt, but got no further.
In the sixth, Jake Wright singled to left but was forced at second on a grounder to third by Cade Drennan and the inning fizzled out.
Schmidt was plunked on the third pitch of the seventh then Thrash was brought to the bump.
2018 SENIOR AMERICAN LEGION MID-SOUTH REGIONAL TOURNAMENT
At Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, New Orleans, La.
Wednesday, Aug. 8
Game 1 — Tupelo 49ers (29-4) (Mississippi champion) 7, Columbia, Tenn. (Tennessee champion) 0
Game 2 — Bryant Black Sox (43-9) (Arkansas champion) 8, Salina Falcons (35-2) (Kansas champion) 3
Game 3 — Gauthier/Amedee Wombats of Gonzales, La., (32-3) (Louisiana champion) 2, Cape Girardeau Post 63 (Missouri runner-up) 0
Game 4 — Jefferson City Post 5 (24-9) (Missouri champion) 2, Retif Oil of New Orleans (19-5-1) (host team) 1
Thursday, Aug. 9
Game 5 — Columbia, Tenn. 9, Cape Girardeau Post 63 8
Game 6 — Retif Oil of New Orleans 1, Salina, Kansas, Falcons 0
Game 7 — Tupelo, Miss. 49ers 2, Gauthier/Amedee Wombats of Gonzales, La. 0
Game 8 — Bryant Black Sox 3, Jefferson City Post 5 2
Friday, Aug. 10
Game 9 — Gauthier/Amedee Wombats of Gonzales, La. 7, Retif Oil of New Orleans 4
Game 10 — Columbia, Tenn. 4, Jefferson City Post 5 0
Game 11 — Bryant Black Sox 2, Tupelo, Miss. 49ers 0
Saturday, Aug. 11
Game 12 — Tupelo, Miss., 49ers 11, Columbia, Tenn. 7
Game 13 — Gauthier/Amedee Wombats of Gonzales, La. 6, Bryant Black Sox 1
Sunday, Aug. 12
Game 14 — Gauthier/Amedee Wombats of Gonzales, La. 7, Tupelo, Miss., 49ers 2
Game 15 — Gauthier/Amedee Wombats of Gonzales, La., 1, Bryant Black Sox 0