Post 72 catcher Tanner Bell has been as hot as the weather at this week’s American Legion west regional tournament at Rose State College. And the rest of the Braves finally seem to be warming to their task as well.
Bell homered for the second straight day and also doubled twice, driving in four runs and scoring four more to lead Ada (31-9) to a run-rule 12-2 victory over Brassfield in a loser’s bracket contest Thursday afternoon. The win punched Ada’s ticket to a fourth straight Legion state tournament and kept alive the Braves’ faint hopes for a regional title. With the win, the Post 72 squad advanced to another loser’s bracket contest against either Lawton or the OKC Rufnex (who played later Thursday) at 2:30 p.m. today for the right to face either Ardmore or the host Oklahoma City Outlaws at 8:30 p.m. in the loser’s bracket final.
Ardmore, which beat Brassfield, 10-3, in the first round, advanced to meet the Outlaws in the winner’s bracket final by beating Lawton, 14-10, in a slugfest in Thursday’s opener. With a victory in their first game today, the Braves will move on to face the loser of the Ardmore-Outlaws contest, and the winner of that game will face the Ardmore-Outlaws winner in Saturday’s championship game at 5:30 p.m. An if-necessary game could follow at 8:30.
Dylan Tinkler is scheduled to make his first start of the summer on the mound in Ada’s opener today, with Matt Johnson making his second start of the season in the nightcap.
After a change in the bracket Thursday, five of the six teams in the regional will advance to next week’s state tournament. The only team excluded will be the loser of a 2:30 p.m. game Saturday that was added Thursday morning.
The Braves scored at least one run in their final six at-bats Thursday, and after falling into an early 14-0 hole in an ugly 18-8 loss to Lawton Wednesday, they have now scored in nine of their last 10 innings.
“We left some runners on early (eight in the first five innings), but we got some big hits and put together a big inning,” Post 72 coach Travis Graham said after seeing his club pound out 14 hits — seven for extra bases — in Thursday’s win.
Bell, one of the bright spots in Wednesday’s loss with a home run, a double and three RBIs, drew a one-out walk in the second inning and scored Ada’s first run on a double to right-center by Blake Logan; he led off the fourth with a double and scored on a clutch two-out single to right by Cody Robinson to make it 3-0; his two-out solo home run in the fifth extended the lead to 4-0; and his clutch two-out, bases-loaded double off the wall in right-center plated the first three of six unearned runs the Braves scored in the inning to make it 10-2.
Jake Sanders, the only Post 72 starter without a hit, walked leading off the seventh and scored his second run of the game on a line-drive home run to left by Matt Johnson that ended the game on the run rule.
Leadoff hitter Hunter Marcum, who missed Wednesday’s game, had two hits, including a double, and scored two runs — the first on a two-out single by Dylan Tinkler in the third to make it 2-0 and the second on Bell’s double in the sixth after reaching on the only error of the game by either team on his sacrifice bunt.
Robinson had two hits for the second straight day and reached base twice — on a leadoff single and a walk — in Ada’s big sixth inning, and Dylan Johnson and Blake Logan added two hits apiece in the win. Logan, who also singled in the fifth, was walked intentionally in two of his last three plate appearances and scored a run in the sixth on Dylan Johnson’s two-run, opposite-field double into the right field corner. Kade Curry drove in the final run in the inning with a fly-ball single to shallow right-center.
Ada’s offensive outburst was more than enough for staff ace Matt Benedict (7-2) and reliever Jordan Scott, who combined on a six-hitter. Benedict struck out eight in his six innings of work and threw 67 of his 88 pitches for strikes.
His only real mistake was a 1-2 pitch in the sixth that Isaac Sanders lifted into a strong wind for an opposite-field, two-out, two-run homer in the top of the sixth that cut Ada’s lead to 4-2.
Scott then worked a scoreless seventh to set up Johnson’s game-ending blast in the bottom of the inning.
Sanders finished 2-for-3 for Brassfield, which dropped to 15-21 with the loss.
At Rose State College
Am. Legion West Regional
Ada Braves 12, Brassfield 2
BRASSFIELD 000 002 0 — 2 6 1
ADA 011 116 2 — 12 14 0
Kolton Brown, Blake Brennan (5), Duncan Reynolds (6) and Lane Paul. Matt Benedict, Jordan Scott (7) and Tanner Bell. WP-Benedict (7-2). LP-Brown. HR-Isaac Sanders (B), Bell, Matt Johnson (A). 3B-Lane Paul (B). 2B-Gunner Joyce (B), Bell 2, Blake Logan, Dylan Johnson, Hunter Marcum (A). HL-Sanders 2-3, RS, 2 RBIs (B); Marcum 2-3, 2 RS; M. Johnson 1-3, 2 RS, 2 RBIs; Bell 3-3, 4 RS, 4 RBIs; Logan 2-2, RS, RBI; D. Johnson 2-3, RS, 2 RBIs; Kade Curry 1-3, RBI; Cody Robinson 2-3, RBI; Dylan Tinkler 1-4, RBI (A).