MEMPHIS — Trailing from the outset, the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team was looking up at a 9-6 deficit going into the bottom of the sixth inning against the Easley Baseball Club (Weaver) in the championship game of the Mid-Summer Showcase at Gagliano Field on Sunday.
Rallying for four runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Sox snatched the lead and Tyler Bates pitched a 1-2-3 top of the seventh to close out the 10-9 win for the Showcase crown.
It was the fifth win in a row for the Sox, who finished pool play 4-0 with a 5-3 win over the Memphis Tigers earlier in the day. Those three runs were the first ones the Sox had given up in the tournament.
Bryant rides its five-game winning streak into a home contest against Jacksonville on Monday night at Bryant High School.
The Sox’ shutout string over three-plus games came to an end when Memphis scored a run in the top of the second of Sunday’s early game. Opponents had been held scoreless over 18 innings.
Bryant 10, Easley Baseball Club 9
To start pool play, Bryant had defeated another Easley Baseball Club (Scholl) 10-0 behind the shutout pitching of Blaine Sears.
In the championship game, Easley scored in each of the first four innings including four in the top of the first. They led 6-1 at point.
Peyton Dillon was the starter on the mound for Bryant but struggled into the fourth when Bates came in and got out of a jam then finished the game, allowing a run on one hit over four innings.
The Sox’ offense was aided by 10 walks and two hit batsmen plus a couple of errors. Logan Catton, Cade Drennan and Dillon each had two hits. All three smacked doubles along the way.
The bottom of the sixth began with a walk to Ryan Riggs. Catton and Drennan followed with singles, chasing Riggs around to score, making it 9-7.
After a pitching change, Dillon and Coby Greiner each walked to force in a run. Another new pitcher recorded a pair of strikeouts before issuing a four-pitch walk to Connor Martin. That forced in the tying run. Dillon scored on a passed ball to give the Sox the lead.
Two singles, a double, a hit batsman and an error produced EBC’s four runs in the first. In the bottom of the inning, Dillon singled in a run after Riggs and Drennan had walked.
Easley got that run back in the top of the second on a two-out single with runners at first and second.
The lead grew to 6-1 with a run in the top of the third. With two outs, a double and a single accounted for the tally.
Catton led off the Bryant third with his double. Drennan’s followed, making it 6-2. After Dillon was struck by a pitch, a balk put runners at second and third for Greiner, whose grounder to short was misplayed, allowing Lawson Speer, running for Drennan, to score.
The Sox tried to squeeze in a run with Sears at the plate, but the Easley pitcher was able to get to the ball and throw home in time for the out. Nevertheless, an errant pickoff throw resulted in two runs scoring, making it 6-5.
Making a bid to tie the game, Martin walked, and Noah Davis was struck by a pitch, but both were stranded.
A pair of Bryant errors played into Easley’s two-run fourth as the lead grew to 8-5.
Drennan walked with one out in the bottom of the fourth. With Speer in to run, Dillon drilled his double. Speer scored when Greiner grounded out to the right side.
Bates, who gave up a sacrifice fly but nothing more in finishing out the fourth, retired the side in order in the top of the fifth to keep it 8-6. But Easley managed an unearned run in the top of the sixth on a single, a walk and a two-out error.
The Sox responded with their game-breaking rally.
Black Sox 5, Memphis Tigers 3
Greiner went the distance on the mound, allowing all three runs but just one earned. He allowed six hits, all singles, walked three and struck out six.
The Sox gave him a 3-0 lead in the first and Memphis could never make up the ground.
Sears had two hits for Bryant.
Greiner surrendered two singles to start the game but, between them, Drennan, the Sox’ catcher, threw out the runner trying to steal second.
Bryant’s three-run first started with a one-out walk to Riggs. Catton singled then Drennan doubled in the first run. Dillon’s single made it 2-0 then Greiner got a squeeze bunt down, making it 3-0.
Three singles and a passed ball allowed Memphis to get on the board in the top of the second, when they ended the shutout string of the Sox’ pitchers. Greiner ended the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
The game went to the top of the fourth 3-1. Without a hit, Memphis trimmed another run off the lead in the top of the fourth, scoring on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
The Sox responded in the home fourth. Sears singled with one out then Martin and Speer drew walks. Davis singled in a run then Riggs worked a free pass to pick up an RBI, scoring pinch-runner Aaron Morgan.
Greiner retired the Tigers in order in the top of the fifth. In the sixth, a walk, a singled and an error put another run on the board for Memphis. With runners at first and third, however, Greiner set down the next two to preserve a two-run lead.
Time ran out with the Sox batting in the bottom of the sixth.