Sox open Junior State tourney with lopsided win

Jordan Knox went 3 for 3 with three stolen bases and Ryan Riggs went 2 for 2 with three runs batted in as the Bryant Black Sox 17U opened the 2020 Junior American Legion State Tournament with a 12-2 run-rule win over the North Little Rock Colts at Bryant High School Field.

The offense backed solid pitching from Sox’ right-hander Brandon Thomisee who allowed the two runs, one earned, on four hits. In five innings, he walked no one and struck out six.

The Sox advance to play Texarkana on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Texarkana advanced with an 11-1 victory over Batesville. North Little Rock and Batesville will play in a losers bracket game at 5:30. 

The other 14 teams in the tournament all played at Sheridan.

Bryant trailed going into the bottom of the third, 2-1. But the Sox struck for four then added three in the fourth. So, when they scored four in the bottom of the fifth before they made an out, the game was over with the run-rule in effect.

An unearned run gave North Little Rock a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. With two down, Wesley Bird doubled then scored from second when Noah Brooks hit a slow roller towards second that Bryant’s Luke Dreher charged and fielded cleanly. First baseman Colby Morrow had to reach for his throw and, it was ruled, he came off the bag.

Bryant tied it in the bottom of the inning when Logan White walked, took second on a wild pitch and raced home on Riggs’ single to left-center.

Both Thomisee and North Little Rock starter Everett Bird worked 1-2-3 innings in the second, but the Colts regained the upper hand in the top of the third. Everett Bird beat out an infield hit. With one out, he reached second on a grounder to short by Cannon Hay. Wesley Bird then singled in his brother to make it 2-1.

Though Wesley Bird took second on the late throw to the plate, Thomisee got out of the inning with a strikeout.

Knox beat out an infield hit to start the Bryant third. He stole second then third as Lawson Speer worked a walk. After Speer stole second, Knox was caught off third when White tapped back to the mound. They got Knox in a hot box and eventually tagged him out but not until Speer had taken third and White had hustled to second.

A walk to Riggs loaded the bases for Morrow who drilled the first pitch from Bird to deep right-center. Elijah Hillard got back to the ball but his backhanded try at a catch failed. Two runs scored to put the Sox on top.

With two down, it appeared the Colts were out of the jam but Dreher’s fly to center was dropped. Grant Dunbar, running for Riggs, and Morrow each scored on the play to make it 5-2.

Gavin Amberg led off North Little Rock’s fourth with a single to center. Moments later, however, Riggs threw him out trying to steal.

Canaan Coleman walked and stole second but Thomisee fanned Hillard and got Jude Hurley on a comebacker.

The Sox went back to work in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Jaxon Ham was struck by a 2-1 pitch. Knox ripped a single up the middle. Though Ham was forced at second, White’s grounder to second was misplayed as Knox scored. Riggs yanked a double over the right-fielder’s head and the score was 8-2.

Thomisee and the Sox eased through a 1-2-3 top of the fifth.

In the Bryant fifth, Sox manager Ozzie Hurt sent up pinch-hitters for the first three batters. Cade Parker was drilled on the first pitch he saw. An errant pickoff throw to first allowed Parker to reach second and he scored from there on a double by Hayden Thompson.

Ham was hit by a pitch then Knox singled again to plate Thompson. Speer singled to load the bases then Ham scored on a wild pitch. 

Knox scored the game-ending run on a single by White.

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