By Madison McEntire
LAKE VILLAGE — The Bryant 8-year-old All-Stars fell one game short in their quest for the Southwest Regional championship as they lost 9-6 to Springdale on Tuesday, Aug. 4. In a game immediately preceding the finals, they had defeated Donaldsonville, the Louisiana state champs, by a 10-3 score to reach the championship game. In addition to the second-place trophy, Bryant took home another award as the umpires and tournament officials voted to give them the Sportsmanship trophy.
In post-season play, the All-Stars compiled a 21-4 record while winning a Father’s Day tournament in Sherwood, finishing second in the district tournament, winning the state tournament, and taking second place in the regional.[more]
Bryant 10, Donaldsonville 3
Bryant struck first in the bottom of the second. Cade Dupree reached on a single and later advanced to second when Logan Grant bunted and was retired on close play at first. Garrett Nguyen then stroked a two-out single to give his team a 1-0 lead.
After holding Donaldsonville scoreless in the third, the All-Stars broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the third. Coby Greiner opened the inning with a bad-hop single. Logan Catton put down a bunt and reached on a throwing error by the catcher, with Greiner going all the way to third. Ryan Lessenberry was retired on a sacrifice bunt but Greiner scored on the play and Catton moved up to third. Sawyer Holt followed with another sacrifice bunt for the second out with Catton scoring from third to give Bryant a 3-0 lead. The top of the order then went to work as Triston Day singled, stole second base and advanced to third on an infield single by Logan Chambers. Nathan McFarland followed with a base hit that plated Day and moved Chambers to second. Cade Dupree then stepped in the box and launched a long double to left-center which scored both runners, although Dupree was thrown out to end the inning as he tried for third base.
Donaldsonville got on the board with one run in the fourth when their leadoff batter singled and got to second on an outfield error. After advancing to third on a teammate’s single, he stole home when the runner on first faked for second and drew a throw.
Bryant quickly extended their lead to 10-1 with four runs in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Grant singled and stole second. After Nguyen smashed a hard line drive right at the left-center fielder for the second out, Jake Cowell lined a shot back up the middle that nicked the pitching machine, resulting in a dead ball with Cowell being awarded first but Grant having to remain at second. Greiner then singled up the middle scoring Grant and sending Cowell to second. Catton followed with a single to center that plated Cowell, with Greiner moving up to third and Catton taking second on the throw to the plate. Lessenberry reached on an error by the second baseman as Greiner scored and Catton went to third. The final run of the inning scored as Lessenberry stole second and Catton stole home as the throw went to second.
Donaldsonville scored their final two runs in their final at-bat. Their first two batters singled and Bryant allowed the runners to move around the bases as they took an out at first on a grounder to the pitcher and a sacrifice bunt. After a single drove home the second run, the game ended when Dupree snagged a ball at the mound and tossed to McFarland at first base.
Springdale 9, Bryant 6
In the finals of the Southwest Regional, it was a battle of Arkansas state champions as Bryant, winner of the South Arkansas championship, squared off against the Springdale All-Stars, winner of North Arkansas championship. Both teams were undefeated in pool play during the regional and entered the finals with 7-0 records.
Springdale struck first in the top of the second for two runs. The leadoff batter reached on an error and then they used a single and some daring base running to go with a fielder’s choice by each of the next two batters to take a 2-0 lead.Bryant quickly tied the score in their half of the inning. With one out, Will McEntire ripped a line drive to right-center that went for a double. Grant singled to short left with McEntire holding at second on the play. Nguyen then singled hard to left to score McEntire and move Grant around to third. Cowell followed with a sacrifice fly to left-center to tie the game at 2-2.
After a scoreless third, Springdale started the fourth inning with a single. The next batter lined hard to shortstop Chambers who doubled the runner of first. However, Springdale responded with four straight singles and a triple to plate five runs. During the rally, Bryant caught a couple bad breaks as one single was blooped just over third base and one came on a ground ball that took a bad hop and went over the shoulder of second baseman Day. With a Springdale runner on third, the All-Stars finally got the third out of the inning but the damage was done and Springdale’s lead was 7-2, with all five runs coming with two outs.
Bryant got one of the runs back in the fourth. McFarland singled with two outs. The next batter was Dupree whose grounder was fielded cleanly by the shortstop but both runners were safe as the second baseman dropped the throw at the bag for the force out. McEntire then stroked a single to center to score McFarland and cut the gap to 7-3.
The All-Stars set Springdale down 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth and then trimmed the lead to 7-5. Nguyen lead off with a single and Cowell then reached on an error. After Greiner flew out to left-center, with Nguyen moving to third, and Catton lined hard to third, Lessenberry got an infield single off the pitcher’s glove with Nguyen scoring on the play. Holt then looped a ball just over the pitcher’s head and off his glove and beat the throw to first as Cowell came around to score, beating the first baseman’s throw to the catcher.
In the final inning, Springdale scored twice to make it 9-5. Their leadoff batter reached on a single and moved to second as the next batter reached on an error. Another single loaded the bases but their cleanup batter fouled out to catcher Lessenberry. The next hitter hit a sacrifice fly to make bring in a run and then another Bryant error allowed the final run to score. The All-Stars avoided further damage when Nguyen made a fine catch on a line drive to right field to end the inning.
Needing a big inning in their final at-bat, Bryant started with two quick outs but then made a last-ditch effort for victory. Dupree singled hard up the middle and came around to score when McEntire smacked a double over the head of the right-center fielder. But then the Springdale second baseman hauled in Grant’s pop up to end the game and give his team the championship.