The Brownwood Nationals await either the Early Rangers or Coleman Bluecats - who meet at 6 p.m. Thursday - in the TTAB District 3 8U Machine Pitch Tournament Championship Game, which will take place at 8 p.m. at the Massey Sports Complex.
Behind a six-run bottom of the fifth inning, the Nationals knocked off the Early Rangers, 16-8, Wednesday to clinch the first spot in the tournament final. Meanwhile, Coleman defeated the Brownwood Pirates, 11-3, and the Early Aggies, 15-0, in elimination bracket action to move into the semifinal contest against the Rangers.
The Nationals took the lead over the Rangers for good Wednesday by breaking a 6-all tie with four two-out runs in the bottom of fourth.
Braiden Brown began the spurt when he reached base on a fielder’s choice, while an error allowed Wyatt Wolf to get on board and Brown to score. Kameron Garza then singled ahead of an RBI double by Levi Pearson. Blayne Stegemoller’s two-RBI single over first base stretched the lead to four runs.
The Rangers crept within 10-8 in the top of the fifth, but would not get another turn at the plate.
Sirr Beam started the inning with a double and Tommy Groom followed with an RBI double. With one out, Cole Callison’s RBI ground out drove in Groom.
The Nationals’ game-ending six-run bottom of the fifth featured Layton Greer and Levi Cline reaching on consecutive singles. Bennett Windham and Brayden Moya followed with back-to-back RBI singles. Brown reached on a pop up that dropped behind second base, which allowed Windham and Moya to cross the plate. Garza then drove in Brown with a one-out RBI single, while Wolf’s RBI single to right field plated Garza with the final run.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Reese Hamm led off with a single and scored on an RBI ground out by Callison.
The Nationals grabbed a 5-1 edge in the bottom of the first as Windham doubled with one out and scored the tying run on an RBI single by Moya. With two outs, Wolf singled to keep the inning alive, then Garza, Pearson, Stegemoller and Javien’n Lopez followed with consecutive RBI base hits.
The Rangers cut the deficit to 5-2 in the top of the second as Beam tripled with two outs and scored on an RBI single by Groom.
The gap further dwindled to 5-4 in the top of the third as Callison led off with a double for the Rangers and scored on an RBI infield single by Cal Hatton, who later came home on an RBI base hit by Ivan Rodriguez..
The Nationals extended their lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the third as Pearson led off with a single and scored on Lopez’s RBI base hit up the middle.
The Rangers evened the score at 6 in the top of the fourth as Kaden Watkins singled home home Andrew Reedy, who reached on a fielder’s choice, and Hatton singled home Callison, who reached on a base hit.