Eastbank squad defeats Tulsa, Okla. in Little League Southwest Regional opener
For the Little League Baseball Louisiana champions, the dream of reaching Williamsport is a bit closer to becoming reality Thursday evening.
Eastbank Little League downed Tulsa National, 7-4, in their first game in the double-elimination Little League Baseball Southwest Regional at Marvin Norcross Stadium in Waco, Texas.
Casey Avrard and Luke Brandau hit home runs, and James Bendeck had two hits while also reaching on a error.
Josh Sterling, Rhett Centanni and Brock Bullinger handled the pitching duties for Louisiana. Sterling started and went two innings before allowing a leadoff single in the bottom of the third with a 5-1 lead. Centanni battled through the frame in relief and left with his team still up by a run, aided by a double play grounder handled smoothly by Avrad and Brenau in the middle infield to prevent more Oklahoma damage in a three-run rally.
Afforded additional breathing room thanks to Avrard’s two-run homer in the fourth to make it 7-4, Bullinger pitched a pair of shutout innings before Brady Ramon closed out the game with a scoreless frame including two strikeouts.
Oklahoma’s first three batters reached on a hit-by-pitch, infield single and a walk to bring the potential winning run to the plate with no one out in their final at-bat. Bullinger managed to escape the jam unscathed to clinch the win by fielding a bunt in the plate, flipping for a forceout and then striking out final two batters to end it.
Eastbank plated multiple runs in the second, third and fourth innings including their first three runs of the game in top of second scored without a hit thanks in part to three Oklahoma errors.
Brandau’s solo shot to lead off the third made it 4-1 before Brady Ramon’s groundout scored Centanni from third base.
The loss by Tulsa National marks the 32nd straight defeat in Little League regional play by Oklahoma representatives and sends them into the loser’s bracket on Friday night.
Eastbank advances to a winner’s bracket game Saturday night at 8 p.m. The game will be televised by the Longhorn Network.
The winner of the Southwest Regional advances to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
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