The Remington Bullets made an emotional run through the Arkansas American Legion AA state tournament but ultimately fell to Harrison 2-1 in an elimination game Monday night in Harrison.
If the Bullets had won, they would have forced a winner-take-all game Tuesday. However, the Bullets finished the season as the state runners-up.
The Bullets went 3-2 in the tournament but there was a bigger reason for emotions during the tournament.
The tournament was set to start Friday but was postponed by rain. That was supposed to be the final game for catcher Madison James, who was leaving for college at Texas Christian University to work with the athletic training program and the Horned Frogs football team.
On Saturday, the Bullets beat Pangburn 3-2 in the opening round. It was the last game for Christian James. He and Madison’s father Chris, a longtime supporter of their sons, died of cancer Sunday.
Prior to learning of Chris James’ death, the Bullets played an emotional game Sunday afternoon, beating Hot Springs Lakeside 12-9. The players wore messages to the James on their wrists during the game.
Later than evening, the Bullets lost their first game of the tournament, 5-4, to Harrison.
Remington came back Monday and beat White Hall in an elimination game before losing to Harrison to end the season.
Remington coach Steve Moore was proud of the way his team fought through adversity during the tournament.
"We were all close to the Jameses," Moore said. "All the boys on the team were and the parents. They wanted us to stay and play. With the distractions we had, I was very proud of them for going as far as they did."
Moore said it was an emotional roller coaster.
"When you have something like that happen, baseball doesn’t really mean much," he said. "It’s just a game. You’ve got to look at the other stuff. The boys really did a good job with that. We know Chris would have wanted them to stay and play. I think he would have been real proud of them. We were one strike away from a state championship so that’s pretty good."
In the final game Monday night, it was scoreless until the top of the sixth when Remington took a 1-0 lead. Lane Moore singled to center field and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Watson.
In the bottom of the seventh, pitcher Blake Gooden retired the first two batters and had two strikes on the third batter. Harrison then had three consecutive hits, including two doubles, as it rallied to win the state title.
"Blake threw a great game," Moore said. "He was throwing BBs for seven innings."
Gooden gave up two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five.
"We were a strike away but that’s baseball," Moore said. "That’s why you have to get three strikes."
The Bullets won 17 games this year, playing both Senior Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball.
"We played a lot of baseball games," Moore said. "The American Legion probably had better competition. They play at a higher level than some of those other organizations. They have real good umpires. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They played great baseball."
In the season finale, the Bullets had four hits — one each by Moore, Gage Johnson, Zack Risner and Pierce Johnson.
Bullets 9, White Hall 5
The Bullets advanced to the final round with a 9-5 win over White Hall on Monday afternoon.
Both teams scored three runs in the first but the Bullets added one in the second and two in the third to lead 6-3.
White Hall scored single runs in the fourth and sixth innings but Remington also scored a single run in the fifth and two in the sixth to get the win.
Nick Watson and Zack Risner each scored two runs. Also scoring were Blake Gooden, Shane Pepper, Guy Halbert, Gage Johnson and Josh Mathis.
The Bullets had 10 hits in the win, led by Risner’s three hits. Gooden had two while Pepper, Halbert, Johnson, Watson and Mathis had one hit each.
Mathis got the win, pitching 4 2/3 innings. He gave up on earned run while striking out three.
Harrison 5, Bullets 4
The Bullets lost to Harrison 5-4 in the winner’s bracket on Sunday night.
Remington led 4-2 after five innings. Harrison scored three times in the top of the sixth to take the lead.
Pierce Johnson was 3 for 3 at the plate. Shane Pepper and Nick Watson had two hits each.
Scoring runs were Blake Gooden, Pepper, Guy Halbert and Watson.
Mikey Shinn pitched well, despite getting the loss. He gave up only two earned runs in seven innings of work. He struck out four.
Bullets 12, Lakeside 9
The Remington Bullets held off Lakeside for a 12-9 win Sunday.
Both teams scored four runs in the first inning but the Bullets scored twice in the second, three in the third and two in the fourth lead to 11-4.
Lakeside tried to make a comeback, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Nick Watson led the Bullets with three runs scored. Scoring twice each were Lane Moore, Guy Halbert and Josh Mathis. Also scoring were Blake Gooden, Zack Risner and Pierce Johnson.
Moore and Halbert led the Bullets with three hits each.
Moore got the win, striking out three in 4 1/3 innings of work.
Bullets 3, Pangburn 2
The Remington Bullets scored single runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings to beat Pangburn 3-2 in the first round.
Scoring were Blake Gooden, Lane Moore and Guy Halbert. Christian James had the game’s only RBI.
Halbert got the win, going 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven. Gooden earned the save, pitching 2/3 of an inning.