The Brownwood Rangers slipped past the Brownwood White Sox, 9-7, Friday at the Camp Bowie Sports Complex in the TTAB District 3 Junior Boys tournament championship game.
Both squads will help comprise the field in the 10-team TTAB Junior Boys state tournament, which begins Monday, July 28 in Athens.
The victory was the second two-run triumph for the Rangers over the White Sox in the tournament, and Friday’s rematch had none of the hostility that was displayed in the first meeting. In fact, prior to the first pitch the players and coaches from both teams gathered with the umpires near the pitcher’s mound and recited a prayer.
Ranger Marcus Berniard homered twice and drove in seven runs, while pitchers Vance McShan and Levi Perez combined to strike out 11 White Sox and strand 10 base runners. In the their two tournament games against the Rangers, the White Sox left a total of 25 base runners stranded.
Offensively, the White Sox finished with eight hits to the Rangers’ six, but the White Sox pitching trio of Tyler Edwards, Dylan Burleson and Graylon Brown also walked seven batters and hit three more - and six of those resulted in Ranger runs.
The White Sox were able to rally from an early four-run deficit to pull even at 5-all in the bottom of the third inning, but were never able to grab the lead.
The Rangers seized control for good in the top of the fourth on a two-out, three-run home run by Berniard. Berniard’s drive to left field off Burleson followed Perez being hit by a pitch for the third time in the game, and Josh Fleming reaching on a two-out walk.
The White Sox closed the gap to 8-7 in the bottom of the fifth as Cade Johnson, who walked, and Stacen Torres, who doubled, scored when Patrick Espinoza reached on a two-out throwing error by Fleming at third base.
But the Rangers gained an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning as Dillon Ellis doubled to left field with two outs, then Fleming dropped a blooper into shallow left field for an RBI.
The White Sox left one base runner stranded in the sixth, and in the seventh Torres was hit by a pitch and Espinoza walked with two outs. McShan - who struck out 10, walked seven and hit three in 6 2/3 innings - was then relieved by Perez. Perez then recorded a strike out against Graylon Brown to end the contest.
In the top of the first inning, the Rangers scored four runs before the White Sox recorded an out. Perez was hit by a pitch, then Ellis and Fleming walked against Edwards. Burleson came on in relief and Berniard crushed a two-strike offering over the left-center field fence for a grand slam and 4-0 Rangers lead.
The White Sox battled back in the bottom of the first, however, as Espinoza reached on an infield single and Brown was hit by a pitch. Burleson then followed with a two-RBI double to left field that cut the Rangers’ lead to 4-2.
Mitch Stephens’ two-out RBI single to right field later in the inning scored Burleson as the White Sox closed to within 4-3.
The Rangers added their fifth run in the top of the second inning as Perez was hit by a pitch for the second time, then scored on the lone White Sox error. After Fleming was called out on an infield fly, Burleson attempted to throw out Ellis, who was retreating to first base after breaking for second. The throw sailed high, and Perez scored from second.
Brown and Torres finished with two hits each to pace the White Sox, while Burleson, Espinoza, Edwards and Stephens tallied the others.
The Rangers received two hits each Berniard and one apiece from Fleming, Ellis, Sam Humeniuk and Brandon Brownlee.