After falling behind 7-0 in the first three innings, the Bryant Black Sox Junior American Legion team (17) came all the way back to take a 10-8 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. But the Fort Smith Sporstman Athletic Junior squad plated three runs in the top of the seventh and squelched a Bryant bid to return the favor in the bottom of the inning to claim an 11-10 win at Bryant High School Field on Thursday.
The two teams played a second game, a five-inning contest, and the Sox, out of pitching, lost 11-4.
Bryant, now 6-3 on the season, heads to Russellville to play the first two days of a three-day tournament. They head to Atlanta for the Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational showcase on Sunday.
Fort Smith belted 15 hits in the opener, scoring an unearned run in the first then five runs on seven hits in the second. Nick Phelps and Kaden Benge each doubled in a run and Tanner Callahan singled in a run. An error allowed a run to score.
In the third, Phelps singled but was forced at second. Kaden Hyatt singled and, with two down Logan Bolin walked. The run scored on a wild pitch, making it 7-0.
The Sox had loaded the bases in the second as Slade Renfrow walked, Ryan Riggs singled and Zion Collins was hit by a pitch but all three were stranded.
In the fourth, Tyler Bates, who had relieved in the third, retired the side in order and, in the home half, the Sox put a big dent in the Fort Smith lead. Jake Horn, the second Fort Smith pitcher, walked the first two batters and gave way to Jimmy Hall. He got the first out on strikes but then walked Blaine Sears to fill the sacks for Noah Davis, who came through with a two-run single.
Davis took second on a late throw to third as Sears arrived there. With two down, Garrett Wilson ripped a single to right-center and two more scored to make it 7-5.
In the top of the fifth, Sears robbed Phelps of a hit then Gabe Fennell singled. But Hyatt smacked a liner back to Bates, who fired to first to double off Fennell.
Riggs led off the bottom of the inning with a single. Kannon Allison sacrificed him to second. Collings followed with a grounder to third that drew a wild throw to first and Connor Coleman, running for Riggs, raced home to make it 7-6.
Bates set down the first two in the top of the sixth but then he hit Callahan. Hall reached on an error. Tatum Lomon was hit by a pitch to load the bases then Breck Burris picked up an RBI with a walk, making it 8-6.
Cameron McDonald came on in relief and ended the inning by getting Phelps to fly to Lawson Speer in center.
Bryant’s sixth started with a single by Speer. Wilson was plunked by an 0-1 delivery and Fort Smith brought Lomon on to pitch. Renfrow greeted him with a bunt that drew a wild throw to first allowing Speer to race home from second.
Riggs picked up an RBI on a grounder to third and the game was even 8-8.
But the Sox weren’t done there. Allison walked on a pitch in the dirt that allowed Renfrow to get to third. And when the catcher’s throw was misplayed by the second baseman, Renfrow scored to put the Sox ahead.
Allison, who had swiped second, took third on the error. After Collins walked, McDonald beat out an infield hit to drive in Allison.
Down 10-8, Fort Smith started the seventh with a solid single to left by Fennell. But Hyatt got jammed. His roller went for a hit. Benge then beat out a bunt single to load the bases.
Sears came on to pitch at that point and induced a grounder to short. The Sox got a force at second but could not nail down the doubleplay as Fennell scored to cut the lead to 1.
Callahan followed with a sacrifice fly to tie it.
And when the throw home sailed beyond the cut-off man, Bolin moved up to second, into scoring position for Hall, who singled to left to snap the tie.
Wilson walked to open Bryant’s seventh. He took second on a wild pitch to give the Sox hope. With one out, Riggs shot a liner just inside the bag at third only to have Lomon, the third baseman, grab it for the out.
In the nightcap, Allison started on the mound, his first pitching assignment of the young season. He didn’t allow a hit in his two innings, but he walked four of the first five batters he faced then hit the next guy.
In the first, the lefty picked both off of first. In turn, the Sox plated two runs. Speer singled and stole second. Ethan Andrews walked then followed Speer on a double steal. Allison walked to load the bases for Collins who blooped a single to center to put Bryant ahead 2-0.
In the second, Trenton Jones and Cade Lynch each walked. Allison had Benge, in to run for Jones, picked off second base. But Jones headed to third and got in there safely on an errant throw. When it got away, Benge scored. Lynch would score on a groundout, tying the game at 2.
Singles by Christian Motes, Davis and Speer loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the second. But Fort Smith starter Caleb Bahn escaped without giving up a run.
Fort Smith scored four times in the third, twice in the fourth then three more times in the fifth. The Sox wound up using three more pitchers over the last three frames.
Meanwhile Bryant had runners aboard in every inning. But two were stranded in the third and another was left aboard on third in the fourth.
The Sox picked up a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, keyed by Riggs’ RBI double. He would later score on Motes’ groundout to set the final score.