FORT SMITH -- Fort Smith Forsgren looked to be in control, leading 6-0 after five innings in its game at the AA American Legion State Tournament on Friday afternoon at Hunt's Park.
But Forsgren needed a big strikeout from Connor Brady to hold on for an 8-6 victory over Harrison to advance to tonight's winner's bracket final.
Harrison bounced back in the nightcap to claim a 1-0 victory over Mountain Home and stay alive in the double-elimination event.
Fort Smith (18-10-1) saw a big early lead nearly get away as Harrison scored three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh. Bryce Bonds' two-run single pulled Harrison within 8-6 with two outs in the top of the seventh.
That's when Forsgren Coach Shea Hamilton turned to Brady. The hard-throwing right-hander came on and struck out Tyler Hutcheson on six pitches to seal the victory.
Hamilton credited Brady with delivering in a tough situation.
"It's tough to pitch when you're coming in and the last couple of guys have not gotten the calls or things have gotten a little dicey," Hamilton said. "Connor did a great job of coming in and doing what we talked about on the mound. I said, 'Hey, this is the guy you want to get.' "
Fort Smith will now take on Jacksonville in the winner's bracket final today at 6:30 p.m.
"We like to make it interesting at times," Hamilton said. "Sometimes we make it too interesting. Sometimes we make it interesting enough where it end up costing us.
"Fortunately today we played well early. We pitched well early. We got timely hits. We did what we needed to do early to where it make it really tough on them."
Forsgren pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth on one hit. Leading 6-3, Eduardo Sanchez scored a runner from third with a groundout and Caden Fuller scored on a passed ball with two outs to push the lead to 8-3.
"We've worked hard in practice lately getting runners home from third base," Hamilton said. "Just about every runner we got to third base today and yesterday for that matter, we scored. That's been really, really big for us."
Chris Daggs went 2 for 3 for Forsgren, while Sanchez and Haden Roark drove in two runs each.
Bonds went 2 for 3 and drove in three runs to lead Harrison, while Teagan James also drove in three.
Forsgren starting pitcher Park Wehunt was dominant early, shutting out Harrison for 3 2/3 innings. He allowed 2 hits, struck out 2 and walked 2 and left with a 5-0 lead.
But the next three Fort Smith pitchers combined to walk seven over the next three innings. Harrison also benefited from a Forsgren error that led to a pair of unearned runs to rally late.
Fort Smith took control early with a three-run second inning to lead 4-0. Forsgren combined two hits, three walks and hit batter to score three times.
Talon Pate's groundout scored a run, while Roark was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Sanchez also drew a bases-loaded walk in the inning. But Forsgren did leave the bases loaded.
American Legion Baseball
AA STATE TOURNAMENT
Friday’s games At Jacksonville
Jacksonville 13, Pine Bluff 3
Sheridan vs. Pine Bluff, (n)
At Fort Smith
Fort Smith 8, Harrison 6
Harrison 1, Mountain Home 0
Today’s games At Jacksonville
Sheridan-Pine Bluff winner vs. Harrison, 4 p.m.
Jacksonville vs. Fort Smith, 6:30 p.m.
AAA STATE TOURNAMENT
Today’s games At Sheridan
Little Rock vs. Paragould, 3 p.m.
Lake Hamilton vs. El Dorado, 5:30 p.m.
Russellville vs. Sheridan, 8 p.m.
Brinkley vs. Texarkana, 3 p.m.
Bryant vs. Crossett, 5:30 p.m.
Fort Smith vs. Cabot, 8 p.m.
Paul Boyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NWAPaulb.