By Rob Patrick
HOT SPRINGS — The Sport Shop Black Sox of Bryant will ride a nine-game winning streak into[more] the Zone 4 Junior District Tournament in Sheridan this weekend after a well-earned 3-2 win over the Lakeside Rams Junior team of Hot Springs Monday night.
Now 14-5 overall, the Sox have won 12 of their last 13 with the lone loss during that stretch, a one-run setback against Dyersburg, Miss., in a tournament at Paragould on June 9.
As they have so often during the streak, the Sox found a way to win, snapping a 1-1 tie with two runs in the top of the sixth then limiting a Lakeside rally in the bottom of the inning.
During the nine-game stretch, only one of the games has been a blowout (19-0 over Benton Sport Shop on June 21). No doubt, winning close games will serve the team well at District, where they’ll start play this Saturday morning at 10 after receiving a first-round bye. The opponent is to be determined by a Friday contest.
Coach Phil Pickett, running the team while his son, manager Tyler Pickett, reported to his new job as a coach and teacher at Batesville Southside, got work on the mound for four of the team’s pitchers, Justin Emmerling, Hunter Oglesby, Blake Patterson and Dakota Besancon. They combined to limit the Rams to six hits, walked just two and hit a pair of batters.
“Two (innings) apiece and close with Besancon just so that we have everything in place for the District tournament,” Pickett said. “It was as much about that as winning the game.”
At the plate, the Sox hammered out 11 hits including three by Dalton Holt and two each from Drew Tipton and Andrew Kincaid.
“We executed well,” Pickett noted. “We had one little time at the plate where we didn’t but other than that, we did what we were supposed to.”
Execution was the key to the game-turning sixth, which started with a walk to Caleb Chaffin. Braylon Mays got him to second with a perfect sacrifice bunt then Holt chopped a single past third to put runners at the corners for Tipton. Chaffin, had to hold at third when Tipton topped an 0-1 pitch and rolled it up the third-base line, beating the throw of Lakeside third sacker Bo Ritter to load the bases.
Patterson came through with a sacrifice fly to get Chaffin home, snapping the tie. A pitch later, Oglesby cracked a single into left to drive in Holt, making it 3-1.
After working a 1-2-3 fifth, Patterson began his second inning with a punch out of Ritter. He walked Brandon Hall then, thinking he heard time called during his delivery to Chandler Overton, the right-hander pulled up and was called for a balk when he discovered time had not been called.
Unfazed, he completed a strikeout of Overton then was a strike away from getting through the inning when John Barmore looped a single to left to bring Hall around from second.
And when the ball was bobbled in left, Barmore was able to get to second. But, with the potential tying run in scoring position, Patterson got Austin Softley to fly out to center to end the threat with a lead intact.
In the seventh, Barmore, who relieved Ritter the starter, during the sixth-inning uprising, retired the first two Sox then Chaffin ripped a double off the fence in right. Mays came up, hoping to add an insurance run with a hit. On a 1-2 pitch, he drilled a liner but it was right back to Barmore, ending the inning.
Besancon relieved for Bryant in the bottom of the seventh and surrendered a one-out single to Aiden Watson, bringing up Lakeside’s third and fourth-place hitters. A wild pitch added to the pressure as Watson moved to second with the potential tying run. But Besancon struck out Chase Willingham and got Spencer Hecke to bounce out to Patterson at short to end the game.
Emmerling had started the game for Bryant. In the first, he surrendered a lead-off single to Hayden Lindsey but retired the next three with Oglesby tracking down a lone fly to center, struck by Hecke, for the third out. In the second, Hall doubled then Overton and Softley were hit by a pitches. But all three were stranded when Lindsey’s chopper to third was played nicely by Besancon to retire the side.
The Sox had runners aboard in each of the first three frames. In the opening inning, Patterson reached on a one-out error and Besancon singled to left but Ritter got out of the jam. In the second, he had to pitch around two-out singles by Kincaid and Holt. Another error allowed Patterson to reach to start the third. With two out, Jimbo Seale singled but the game remained scoreless.
Oglesby worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the third then both teams scored in the fourth. For Bryant, it started with a two-out infield hit by Kincaid. With Mays in to run, Holt slapped a single to right that sent him to third. Tipton hit a roller to third and Mays followed Barmore, the third baseman, down the line and took off for the plate on his throw. Tipton beat it and Mays slid across the plate with the first run of the game.
In the bottom of the inning, Oglesby retired the first two with the help of a nice sliding catch by Besancon in center. A walk to Overton, however, extended the inning. He advanced to second on a passed ball, reached third on a single by Barmore and scored on a base hit by Softley.
Oglesby kept it at that, however, when he got Lindsey, the Rams’ lead-off, to ground out to Patterson.
Both teams went down in order in the fifth, setting the stage for the dramatic sixth.
BRYANT SPORT SHOP BLACK SOX 3, HOT SPRINGS LAKESIDE RAMS 2
Junior American Legion
Tipton, 2b-3b-ss 4021Lindsey, ss4010
Patterson, ss-p2001Lopez, 2b3000
Oglesby, cf-p4011Watson, lf1010
Besancon, 3b-cf-p4010Willingham, c4000
Seale, c4010Hecke, lf-2b4000
Emmerling, p-lf2000Ritter, p-3b3000
Jones, 2b2000Hall, 1b2110
Davis, rf2000Overton, rf1100
Chaffin, 1b1110Barmore, 3b-p3021
Kincaid, 1b2020Softley, cf2011
BRYANT0001020 — 3
Lakeside0001010 — 2
E—Hall, Lopez, Holt. LOB—Bryant 11, Lakeside 8. 2B—Hall, Chaffin. SB—Lindsey, Tipton. S—Mays. SF—Patterson.
Balk—Patterson. HBP—Overton, Softley (by Emmerling). WP—Emmerling, Besancon. PB—Seale