With first two wins, Bryant 14’s advance to winners bracket final at District

ARKADELPHIA — Big innings on offense marked the first two games of District Tournament play for the Bryant 14-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars as they surged into the winners bracket finals at Sturgis Field Friday and Saturday.

A 12-run fifth capped off a 24-6 romp over Hot Spring County in the opener on Friday then a nine-run fourth broke open a 1-1 game against White Hall on Saturday morning on their way to a 12-2 victory.

The Bryant Stars will play in the winners bracket final on Sunday at 2 p.m. If they win, they’ll move to the championship round to await the survivor from the losers bracket. If they lose, they’ll play in the losers bracket final for a chance to play for the title.

The Bryant 14’s include Wesley Akers, Harrison Dale, Justin Emmerling, Zach Graddy, Ashton Green, Tristan Matthews, Austin Miller, Christopher Phillips, Nate Rutherford, Korey Thompson, Chris Troillett, Chase Tucker and Blake Yates. Jason Thompson manages the team with assistance from Mark Akers.[more]

Bryant 12, White Hall 2

Rutherford went the distance on the mound in the win on Saturday. Both of the White Hall runs were unearned as Bryant’s only two errors in the game occurred in the third and fifth when White Hall scored. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out three.

After White Hall was retired in order in the top of the first, Bryant broke the ice on a hit by Miller and a squeeze bunt by Dale.

White Hall tied it in the third on an error, a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly. After Rutherford fanned the next batter, a grounder got through shortstop for an error but when the runner tried to score from second on the play, Tucker fired a throw to the plate for the out to retire the side.

The Bryant Stars couldn’t take advantage of a two-out double by Miller in the third but Rutherford worked around a one-out walk in the top of the fourth to set up the game-breaking uprising.

A walk to Akers was the ignition. A balk got him to second then he stole third. With one out, Green blasted a ground-rule double that bounced off the fence in center to give Bryant the lead.

Walks to Rutherford, Tucker and Yates forced in a run then, with two out, Miller, Dale and Akers drew free passes. Graddy was hit by a pitch to continue the scoring then Green cleared the bases with a triple down the right-field line to make it, 10-1.

Tucker threw out another runner at the plate in the top of the fifth. An opening single was followed by a misplay that allowed the ball to get into center where Tucker charged, scooped and fired to the plate for the out. The batter wound up at second, however, and scored on a single by the next hitter to make it 10-2.

Despite having the third and fourth place hitters up, White Hall could get no more as Rutherford induced a grounder to Green at short for a force at second then another bouncer to Thompson at second to end the inning.

Bryant got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Tucker singled, stole second, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Thompson then, after Miller walked, scored on the front end of a double steal.

A two-out hit was all White Hall could muster in the top of the sixth and when Akers walked, advanced on a sacrifice by Graddy, took third on a grounder by Green and scored on a passed ball, Bryant had the victory as the 10-after-five run rule came into effect.

Bryant 24, Hot Spring County 6

Bryant scored in every inning putting together 12 hits to take advantage of a whopping 18 walks, two hit batsmen and four errors.

Bryant jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening inning. Miller walked and stole second but was thrown out trying to steal third. Free passes to Dale and Akers set the table for Graddy who, after a balk moved runners to second and third, banged a hit to right to tie the game. An out later, Tucker singled him in to give Bryant the lead for good.

Hot Spring County cut it to 3-2 in the bottom of the first despite the fact that Bryant erased a lead-off walk with a doubleplay in which Emmerling, the starting pitcher, grabbed a pop and fired to Rutherford at first to catch the baserunner wandering.

But a hit batsman and a walk were followed by a base hit to plate both runs. Another batter was hit by a pitch but Emmerling ended the uprising with a strikeout.

Bryant took advantage of three walks, a hit batsman and an error with hits by Miller and Rutherford in the second to make it 7-2 then Emmerling needed just six pitches to get through the bottom of the inning.

Bryant added three in the third. Phillips singled then Thompson beat out a bunt single that drove him home after he’d made it to third. A walk to Emmerling was followed by a hit by Miller. A run scored when Dale bounced into a fielder’s choice to make it 9-3 then Graddy walked and Tucker was hit by pitch to force in the third run of the inning. Hot Spring County trimmed a run off that margin in the home half.

Rutherford singled to start a two-run fourth. He advanced on a passed ball, stole third and scored on a squeeze bunt by Thompson. With two down, Emmerling was hit by a pitch and stole second, scoring moments later on a wild throw from third on a ball hit by Miller.

Emmerling struck out the first two of the bottom of the fourth but then Hot Spring County tacked on three runs to trim Bryant’s to 12-6. Emmerling forced them to leave runners at first and third when he finished his work on the mound for the day with his seventh strikeout.

Ten walks and two errors contributed to Bryant’s 12-run fifth. Emmerling contributed a bunt singled to drive in a run. Miller and Rutherford added run-scoring hits with Matthews and Thompson driving in runs as well.Tucker pitched the bottom of the fifth and issued a pair of two-out walks before getting the final out on a pop to Dale at short.

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