By Madison McEntire
Photos by Crissy McEntire
The Bryant All-Stars used “small ball” for a game-breaking 10-run third inning as they[more] opened the Cal Ripken 12-year-old 50/70 State Tournament with a 13-3 trouncing of Monticello at Bryant’s Bishop Park on Friday, July 6.
Team members are Logan Chambers, Logan Grant, Logan Catton, Jacob Coppock, Cade Dupree, Hunter Mullings, Jacob Shepard, Ryan Lessenberry, Will McEntire, Coby Greiner, Zach Wells, and Sawyer Holt. They are managed by Michael Catton with help from assistant coaches Phillip Dupree, Mark Coppock and Madison McEntire.
Coppock was the starting pitcher for Bryant and worked himself into and then out of trouble in the first inning. After striking out the leadoff batter on three pitches, he hit the next batter and, after a stolen base, issued a walk on a full count pitch to put two on. Monticello’s cleanup hitter grounded to Dupree at first who momentarily fumbled the ball but recovered to flip to Coppock at the bag for the second out as the runners moved into scoring position. Coppock then fanned the next batter on a called third strike to end the threat.
In the bottom of the first, Chambers lined to second on a 3-2 pitch but then Dupree walked. After Grant flied to center, Coppock lined hard to the left of the second base bag and the ball rolled to the fence for a triple with Dupree scoring on the play. Mullings grounded to shortstop to end the frame with Bryant up 1-0.
Monticello went quickly in the second as three straight batters were unable to catch up with Coppock’s pitches and each grounded weakly to Dupree at first. Bryant tried the other side of diamond in its half with similar results as Greiner and Catton each grounded out to third, and after Shepard walked, Lessenberry also grounded out to third.
In the third, Monticello briefly took a 2-1 lead. After Coppock recorded a called strikeout, Grant bobbled a bunt allowing the batter to reach first. After stealing second, the runner was pickoff second on a called play with Greiner taking Coppock’s throw at the bag and making the tag. The batter then walked and, after a wild pitch moved him up, another walked put two runners on.
A wild pitch advanced the runners one base and Lessenberry’s throw to third skipped away allowing the lead runner to score. A single to center made it 2-1 with the batter moving to second as Catton threw to the plate. The inning ended when Coppock induced a swinging bunt that Lessenberry snagged in front of the plate. He fired to first for the force out.
Bryant broke the game open in the third as they sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 times. Chambers led off with a walk and stole second. Dupree laid down a perfect bunt along the third base line for a single with Chambers moving to third. After Dupree stole second, Grant scalded a ball to the shortstop for an error that scored Chambers with Dupree going to second.
Coppock grounded a single to right to load the bases for Mullings who grounded out to third on a 3-2 pitch to bring in Dupree and move the other runners up. Greiner bunted to third for a single to score Grant and move Coppock to third as he advanced uncontested to second when Monticello failed to cover the bag. Catton also reached on a bunt when the third baseman tried unsuccessfully to retire Coppock at the plate. Greiner moved to third on the play.
Shepard was up next and he also bunted, this one went down the first base line where the pitcher fielded it too late to get Greiner at the plate or Shepard at first. Catton moved from first to third on the play. After Shepard swiped second base, Lessenberry got into the act as he was out on a sac bunt to the pitcher that got Catton in and moved Shepard to third. Chambers hit a grounder back up the middle for a single to bring in Shepard from third.
Dupree collected his second hit of the inning when he grounded off the shortstop’s glove in the hole, moving Chambers all the way to third. After Dupree stole second, Grant singled between the shortstop and third to bring in both runners. He he took second base on the throw to the plate.
An errant pickoff throw let Grant move to third and he scored when Monticello’s second baseman could not handle Coppock’s hard ground ball. After Coppock stole second, the inning ended when Mullings’ soft pop landed just behind the mound and the Monticello shortstop recovered the ball in time to throw the speedy Coppock out at the plate as he tried to score from second on the play. Bryant’s big inning turned a 2-1 deficit into an 11-2 lead.
In the fourth, Coppock struck on the first batter but then issued his second walk of the game and was taken out after throwing 71 pitches. McEntire entered in place of Shepard and took over on the mound with Coppock moving to center, Catton shifting over to right.
Monticello’s seven-hole hitter lined the first pitch to left-center but Coppock got a good jump on the ball, charged in and made the catch for the second out. The next batter singled on a pop fly that landed just inside the left field line to put two runners on. After a wild pitch moved the runners up, a soft pop halfway back to the mound spun away from McEntire, giving him no chance to retire the runner at first. His flip to the plate went by Lessenberry as the runner from third scored but Lessenberry recovered the ball in time to get it back to McEntire at the plate to end the inning with a tag out of the trail runner who attempted to score all the way from second. Bryant’s lead was 11-3.
Bryant plated two in the bottom of the fourth to produce the 10-run lead and a run-rule win. Holt hit for Greiner and reached on an error by the shortstop. He moved to second on a wild pickoff throw and then to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Catton’s sacrifice fly to left field.
With the bases empty, McEntire lined a single over the second baseman’s head and Shepard re-entered the game to run for him. After Shepard stole second, Lessenberry grounded a ball back through the box that went off the glove of the diving second baseman and rolled into the grass, allowing Shepard to come home, ending the game.
The Bryant All-Stars are next in action against Jacksonville on Saturday, July 6, at Bryant’s Bishop Park at 6 p.m.