Sox put together AA team, win first State contest

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — With players from all three of their regular-season American Legion teams, the Bryant Black Sox started play in the AA State Tournament on Tuesday and earned an 11-2 win over Lonoke Rayburn.

The Sox trailed 2-1 most of the game but rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead then blew the contest up with an eight-run sixth.

Braxton Prather went the distance on the mound, scattering three hits, walking four and striking out four. Only one of the Rayburn runs was earned.

Carson Kemp, Luke Dreher and Gage Horn led the Sox’ offense with two hits apiece. Kemp drove in four.

Rayburn used a single, a walk, a stolen base, and a groundout to pick up its first run in the top of the opening frame. In the second, a one-out double, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly made it 2-0.

After Prather set down the side in order in the top of the third, the Sox scored. Jaxon Ham led off with a single. He stole second and advanced to third on Brady Brower’s groundout. Kemp came through with a bloop single to right for the RBI.

Rayburn was retired in order in the top of the fourth then was unable to take advantage of an error and a walk in the fifth as Brower, the Bryant catcher, threw out the lead runner as he tried to steal.

The Sox took the lead after Ham and Grant Dunbar worked walks with one out. Brower singled to load the bases for Kemp, who delivered a two-run double to make it 3-2.

Rayburn managed a one-out single in the top of the sixth, but the baserunner was stranded.

The Sox’ sixth-inning eruption started with a throwing error that allowed Gage Horn to reach second. Mason Butler sacrificed him to third then walks to Luke Bickerstaff and Ham loaded the bases for Dunbar. He came through with a single to left to make it 4-2.

Brower was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Brayden Beenken came in to run for Brower and Kemp hit a hard grounder to first that was booted, making it 6-2.

Hunter Holt was drilled by a 1-0 pitch to force in a run then Dreher delivered a two-run single to center, advancing to second on the late throw to the plate.

A balk got Holt in then Horn lined a single to right to plate Dreher, making it 11-2.

Prather issued a walk to start the seventh then retired the next batter on strikes. A grounder to Horn at short and a pop to Horn ended the game.

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