BRYANT — The host team had little trouble staving off elimination for the second time in as many days.
Bryant pounded out 17 hits and had four home runs to easily dispose of Crossett 19-0 in a loser’s bracket game during the American Legion AAA State Baseball Tournament on Saturday at Hornet Field.
Noah Davis hit a grand slam, while Cade Drennan and Ryan Riggs contributed three hits apiece for the Black Sox, who whipped Mountain Home 14-0 on Thursday after losing to Cabot in its tournament opener Tuesday. Four other players had multiple hits for Bryant as the Black Sox advanced to face El Dorado today at 5:30 p.m. in another do-or-die game.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Bryant Coach Darren Hurt said. “The key with these guys is making sure they don’t start looking ahead to a possible revenge game against Cabot or playing a team like Fort Smith. We’ve got to look at what’s on the bracket at the time and try to win that one.
“But this one did start out under very weird circumstances.”
The Black Sox had an advantage over their counterparts before the teams even took the field.
Crossett, which was shut out 10-0 by Sheridan in the first round, played with just eight players after a couple of no-shows to its roster. Normally, that scenario isn’t allowed, and the team that’s short-handed is forced to forfeit.
But since the game wasn’t played under nationally sanctioned American Legion rules, the Eagles were allowed to play. The coaches also agreed to play.
Crossett, however, was assessed an automatic out every time the team’s No. 9 spot was set to bat in its rotation.
“I’ve never had a game like that,” Hurt explained. “You’ve got eight kids come all the way up from Crossett, and I didn’t want them to forfeit. Of course, I wanted to save pitching, everybody does at this point in the tournament, especially when you’re in the loser’s bracket.
“But we weren’t willing to win a game that way.”
Bryant jumped on Crossett quickly in the first inning. Davis opened the game with a triple before Ryan Riggs sent him home on a hard-hit single. Two batters later, Drennan blasted a pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run home run to give the Black Sox a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles did manage to put runners in scoring position in the first and second innings, only to come away empty handed.
Bryant went on to open an eight-run cushion in the third, scoring five runs on three hits. Three of those runs came off a throwing error while another was scored on a sacrifice fly from Coby Greiner. Connor Martin also provided an inside-the-park home run.
The Black Sox added five more runs in the fourth, with Riggs opening the frame with his own inside-the-park home run. Greiner, Peyton Dillon, Ethan Andrews and Brayden Lester had run-scoring hits in the innings.
But Bryant effectively put an end to the Eagles’ season with a six-run sixth, powered by a grand slam from Davis.
“We kind of settled in after a while,” Hurt explained. “The game started off so weird that I just wanted our guys not to worry about all of that. I wanted them to just have good at-bats all the way through, and I thought they did that.
“I thought they really concentrated at the plate, and our pitchers threw well, too. We did a good job all the way around.”
At a glance
AA STATE TOURNAMENT
Saturday’s’s games At Jacksonville
Harrison 11, Pine Bluff 1
Jacksonville 6, Fort Smith 0
Fort Smith vs. Harrison, 3 p.m.
Jacksonville vs. Fort Smith-Harrison loser, 5:30 p.m.
AAA STATE TOURNAMENT
Saturday’s games At Sheridan
Little Rock 3, Paragould 1
El Dorado 4, Lake Hamilton 2
Sheridan 15, Russellville 10
Texarkana 10, Brinkley 4
Bryant 19, Crossett 0 Fort Smith vs. Cabot, (n)
Today’s games At Sheridan
Little Rock vs. Texarkana, 3 p.m.
Russellville vs. Little Rock-Texarkana winner, 5:30 p.m.
Fort Smith-Cabot winner vs. Sheridan, 8 p.m.
El Dorado vs. Bryant, 5:30 p.m.
Fort Smith-Cabot loser vs. El Dorado-Bryant winner, 8 p.m.