Fremont's first regional appearance in 73 years was special, but it came to end Saturday evening at Duncan Field.

For the second straight night, the big hit eluded First State Bank, and the Bryant Black Sox, the Arkansas state champion, advanced to the tournament's final day Sunday. 

"That's tough in a game like that to see those little moments in the game that become huge factors later on," Fremont head coach Jeff Hayden said. 

Trailing by two, Fremont loaded the bases in the sixth inning which forced Bryant starter Will Hathcote out of the game. But, much like Friday, First State Bank's offense couldn't come through. 

Brody Sintek slapped a one out single, and Dawson Glause and Jackson Gilfry walked, but the Bryant bullpen held strong.

Tyler Bates induced a fly out to end the frame. Then in the seventh, worked around a dropped third strike that allowed Fremont slugger Austin Callahan to reach and later score, before retiring the final three batters to survive 5-4.

"Another one-run ballgame has me popping blood pressure pills in here like crazy," Bryant head coach Darren Hurt said with a laugh. "Offensively, we just cannot pull away from anybody."

A game like Saturday's is most similar to a boxing match. It wasn't always clean, there were tears, and some blood, but each punch seemed to have an answer. 

Bryant scored, then Fremont. Then Bryant, followed by Fremont. Repeat.

"Every time we scored, it felt like (Fremont) was always getting a hit, getting somebody on, moving a base. They just put a ton of pressure on us," Hurt said. "You've got to give them credit for that but it was great to pull off the W."

The difference was Fremont going quiet in a crucial situation. Even with the bases being loaded and stranded in the sixth with another inning to play, the game felt like it hinged on whether or not the First State lineup could come through in that moment. 

It didn't, and the season was all but over.

"With bases loaded, and a 15-year-old kid on the mound, it's a big spot. I'm super proud of (Bates)," Hurt said. "Our pitching has been phenomenal the whole tournament. We haven't done ourselves any favors, making some mistakes defensively. But our pitching staff just keeps getting back up there and competing. When we're not walking people we're really good."

Noah Davis, William Grant, and Gage Stark each collected two hits. Stark recorded two RBI and Davis scored twice for the Black Sox. Logan Catton wore two pitches and walked once and also scored twice. 

Callahan, as he often has done for Fremont, produced a majority of the offense Saturday. He scored three of Fremont's four runs.

In the third inning, Callahan barreled up a hanging slider from Hatchote and powered it over the right field bricks, tucking it right inside the foul line above the 367-feet signage.

"We were talking how the slider had some late break on it, and I knew coming into here I could hit one out easily," Callahan said. "I squared it up pretty good and got it out."

Callahan's bomb was the first home run by an American Legion player in a game played at Duncan Field since June 7, 2011.

Hayden said it was the first homer he's seen hit in his years coming to the historic ballpark.

"I've never seen a ball hit out of this place, let alone by a high school kid. So that's a feat upon itself, but to say I was surprised by it, I really wasn't because he's shown that ability and that power all year," the Fremont coach said. "I'm just glad he got to showcase it and I'm glad that people around the state know how quality of a baseball player he is."

After the home run by Callahan, Hurt implemented a shift with the Black Sox defense. Hurt put four players in the outfield, leaving almost the entire middle of the infield vacated.

"The defensive strategy was to let him get a single," Hurt said. "It really was. We're playing four outfielders because that's a huge area to cover. We think if he hits it there he's out. But obviously not because he hit the home run....He's a great hitter."

Bryant will have a chance Sunday to be crowned Mid-South Regional champions and head to the national tournament for the second time in three years. The Black Sox will play Hastings Five Points at 1 p.m. The Chiefs came from behind Saturday night to defeat Festus Post 253 5-2.

"We're ready to go," Hurt said. "They've done a really good job of focusing day to day. Now we're to THE day."


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