Black Sox drop to Newport

BRYANT – After defeating Stuttgart 7-2 on Saturday in the second round of the AA American Legion State Tournament, the Bryant Black Sox fell 3-2 in a hard-fought game to Newport Dell Motors on Sunday at Bryant High School.

Newport starter Michael Reynolds gave up two unearned runs in his complete-game win as he held Bryant at bay. Reynolds finished giving up seven hits and a walk while striking out four and throwing 106 pitches.

“They’re a good team, but we are too,” Bryant Coach Jason Thompson said. “We look at it as a challenge. They had three or four [players] come back from college ball this year, three or four that graduated high school this year and the rest of their team I believe are seniors.”
Thompson said he was proud of his team because the Black Sox competed well against an older team.

“We’ve got guys going into the 10th grade, 11th grade, our catcher tonight and an outfielder are still 15-years old, so we just look at it as a challenge. We played well, they played well.”

After Bryant starting pitcher Wes Akers gave up an infield hit to Devante Neal to start the bottom of the first, Akers retired seven in a row including four straight strikeouts before giving up a home run over the left-field fence to his counterpart Reynolds to give the Black Sox a 1-0 deficit.

“He got it started,” Newport Coach Michael Long said of Reynolds’ homer. “We’ve been waiting for that all year. Usually I’ve been DHing for him, but since he got to the state tournament, he’s gotten on fire and found his rhythm. He helped himself and I’m proud of him. We’ve had guys hit some home runs this weekend that haven’t hit one all year.”

With two outs in the inning, Akers walked Spencer Shannon and it would come back to haunt him. A wild pitch and an infield single later put runners at first and third, and Will Hubbard made it a 2-0 game with a single to left field.

It would remain 2-0 until the top of the fifth inning when Korey Thompson singled to left to lead off. After two consecutive fly outs to right field, Trevor Ezell singled to center field. The next batter, Jason Hastings, hit a grounder to shortstop, but his throw got away from the first baseman allowing Thompson to score. Ezell also came around to score on the error amid some controversy. The ball went into the dugout ruling it dead and the umpires originally told Ezell to go back to third base. After Coach Thompson argued, the umpires talked it over and allowed the run to count to tie the game.

“It’s a judgment call,” Long said. “In the dugout, it’s a dead ball plus one. It’s all about where he feels the [runner] is. I thought he should have stayed at third, but the umpire saw it another way and we have to roll with it and fight back and that’s what we did.”

Newport’s Grant Black singled to center field to start the bottom of the sixth and Akers got Will Hubbard to fly out. Akers had a 2-2 count on Matt Duvall before he had to come out of the game because of an injury on his previous pitch. Chase Tucker relieved Akers and would walk the next two batters before Gunnar Bullard hit a rocket shot that hit off the third baseman’s glove for an RBI hit and 3-2 Newport lead. Tucker would strike out the next two batters looking at an outside slider and outside fastball to get out of the inning.

Drew Tipton singled to center to start the top of the seventh and went to second on Dylan Breeding’s sacrifice bunt. Tipton went to third on Ezell’s fly out to right field, but would be left stranded when Hastings struck out to end the game.

“They’re a great ballclub,” Thompson said of Newport. “We left some opportunities on the bags there. We got ourselves out of a couple jams in a couple different innings with some double plays. With that said, we still left a couple guys in some scoring spots we should have picked up. A couple different innings came back to haunt us there at the end.”

The Black Sox also put runners at third base in the third and fourth innings, but could not score. The Black Sox had no outs in the fourth with runners at first and third, but Harrison Dale hit a hard line out to Reynolds and he doubled off Cody Gogus at first.

Akers got the loss giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk, and struck out four in five and a third innings. Gogus went 2 for 3 at the plate and Ezell went 2 for 4 with a run. Akers and Thompson went 1 for 3 and Tipton went 1 for 2.

Black, Bullard and Reynolds each went 2 for 3 for Newport.

“We’ll just battle back through it and see what happens,” Coach Thompson said. “We’ll play two on Saturday hopefully and just extend our season. These guys are young, they’ve been is this situation before. I’ll assure you, we’re going to play as hard as they can on Saturday. I’m proud of them.”

The Black Sox will play Saturday at 2 p.m. against the winner of the Stuttgart/Wynne game, which will be played on Friday.