The Brownwood Angels scored twice in the top of the sixth and final inning to edge the Early Huskers, 3-1, in the opening game for both teams at the TTAB 12U Open Base State Tournament at the Massey Sports Complex Monday night.
Knotted at 1 heading into each team's final at-bat, the Angels started the sixth with a walk by Ridge Stegemoller, who then stole second base. Slayde Espinoza followed with an RBI single into right field off Early pitcher Caleb McCullough, which plated Stegemoller with the decisive run. Espinoza was erased at second base when Luke Gray reached on a fielder's choice, but Tristan Salinas was hit by a pitch with two outs to move Gray into scoring position. Zaiden Lopez then came through with an insurance RBI single into left field that produced the third run before Lopez was thrown out at second base attempting to stretch his hit into a double.
The Huskers had a chance to rally in the bottom of the sixth as Ki Houston led off with a walk issued by Brownwood's Espinoza, while Ethan Pallette followed with a single up the middle. With runners on second and third and two outs, Justin Pierce — who doubled off the center field fence earlier in the contest — was inches away from a game-tying single as Brownwood shortstop Hudson Reagan made a back-handed stop of a grounder up the middle and completed the throw to first base for the final out.
Tied at 1 in the fourth inning, Early let a golden opportunity to seize control of the contest slip away. Houston started the fourth with a double down the third base line, while an errant throw on the play allowed him to advance to third base. The next batter, Pallette, grounded back to Salinas on the mound, who retired Houston at the plate on a fielder's choice. Connor King then reached on an infield single, putting runners on first and second with one out. But Hayden Schroeder lined into a double play as Pallette was forced out at second base.
The Huskers took the lead in the bottom of the third as Jeremy Brown drew a two-out walk and advanced to third base when Caydon Laird reached on an error. Brown later came home to score on a passed ball during McCullough's at-bat.
The Angels immediately answered the Huskers' run after Brownwood left runners stranded in scoring position in each of the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, Espinoza drew a lead walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Following a pair of strikeouts, Salinas' RBI single to right field drove home Espinoza with the tying run.
The Angels will face the Cameron Rangers at 6 p.m. Tuesday in winner's bracket action, while the Huskers and Brownwood Pirates will square off at 6 p.m. Tuesday with the loser going home.