Sox hang on for first win in bracket play at Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — To open up bracket play at the MidAmerica Premier showcase tournament on Saturday, the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team built a 7-1 lead going into the bottom of the final inning. The 16U NBA – Blake team rallied however, scoring five times. They had the tying run on third and the potential winning run on first when Coby Greiner came on to induce a ground out to Logan Catton at third to end the game.

The 7-6 win sets up a winners’ bracket showdown with the tournament’s top seed on Sunday.

The Sox, now 21-8, were led offensively by Logan Grant with three hits. Gage Stark, Brayden Lester and Ryan Lessenberry each had two hits.

Slade Renfrow pitched six innings as the Bryant starter, allowing one run on three hits. In the seventh, however, he walked a batter and hit one before getting within an out of victory with a strikeout. Another hit batsman led to a two-run single by Blake Venneman.

Christian Motes relieved and was greeted by an RBI single from Ayden Blachowicz. A run scored on a base hit by Tyler Large then a passed ball got the sixth run home before Greiner got the final out.

The Sox took a 3-0 lead in the first. Logan Chambers opened with a single and, with two out, Jake Wright was plunked by a 2-2 pitch. That led to a two-run triple to right by Gage Stark. Grant singled him home.

Wright set down NBA in order in the bottom of the first. In the second, Lester and Lessenberry led off with singles to put runners at the corners. Chambers’ sacrifice fly made it 4-0.

After retiring the first five in a row, Wright hit a batter with two down in the bottom of the second. But Logan Goeckner grounded to Catton at second for an inning-ending force.

The game went to the bottom of the fourth 4-0. But Venneman walked and Blachowica reached base on an error. Venneman would score on an error on a pickoff attempt.

The Sox increased their advantage in the top of the fifth. Cade Drennan singled but was forced at second on a grounder to short by Wright. Singles by Stark and Grant loaded the bases and, with two down, Lester came through with a two-run single on a 3-2 pitch.

Tim Wilburn singled with two out in the bottom of the fifth. He took second on a passed ball but was stranded there when Renfrow struck out Hayden Thilges.

Bryant tacked on what proved to be the decisive run in the top of the sixth. Lessenberry greeted a new pitcher with a looping single to left. Chambers drew a walk and Catton got a bunt down only to have Lessenberry forced at third. But Drennan came through with a sacrifice fly and it was 7-1.

In the home sixth, Renfrow pitched around a pair of two-out singles and a hit batsman. Jack Leever hit a comebacker to the pitcher for the third out.

The Sox went in order in the top of the seventh, setting up the dramatic finish.

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