Empire Baseball had a big winning streak heading into the finals of the Oilfield Conference Tournament that totaled eight games, however it ended with a 5-3 loss to Walters this past Saturday.
Getting a bye in the first round and a forfeit victory to make it seven wins in a row, the Bulldogs hosted Velma-Alma in the semi-finals and beat them 13-5 to make it to the title match.
Empire took the early 2-0 lead when Connor Francis hit a double to right field to score Jackson Smith and Brayden Miller with the final out happening as Francis tried to stretch the double into a triple.
Smith got the next run for the Bulldogs as he scored on a groundout from Gabe Diaz to give Empire the 3-0 lead heading into the next scoring opportunity in the top of the fourth inning.
Diaz hit a single up the middle to drive in Rylan Miller and Logan Whitten to put Empire up 5-0 with one out when a strikeout happened to put the Bulldogs with two outs.
Francis came up to the plate again, this time smacking a single through the right side to score Smith and put Empire up 6-0 with an error scoring Diaz to make it 7-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.
The bottom half of the fourth inning saw the Comets start a small comeback when a single from Lane Jones drove in two runs to cut Empire’s lead to 7-2 after four innings of play.
Cash Robinson, in the first at bat of the top of the fifth inning, hit a home run to right field to make it 8-2 in favor of the Empire Bulldogs with Velma-Alma answering back in the bottom of the fifth.
Joseph Davis, for the Comets, bunted into a fielders’ choice with the third run for the Comets coming in as Cade Kilcrease scored to put the lead at 8-3 in favor of the Bulldogs.
A few batters later, Tyler Stewart hit a double to bring in Gage Swisher and Davis to put the lead to 8-5 in favor of the Empire Bulldogs as the inning ended with that score.
The Bulldogs added five in the top of the sixth inning starting with a two-run home run from Brayden Miller to make it 10-5 over the Velma-Alma Comets.
Damian Goldsberry and Landon Burton came in on an error on one play to bring the score to 12-5 and then Rylan Miller singled in Robinson to make it 13-5 to send Empire to the title game.
Walters took the early 3-0 lead during that game with the Bulldogs not scoring until the top of the fifth inning when Empire cut the lead to one run.
Rylan Miller hit the ball to second base with an error to score Francis and Robinson to cut the lead to 3-2 in favor of Walters.
Walters added two runs in the bottom of the fifth to secure the victory despite Empire scoring one more in the top of the seventh.
Goldsberry scored on the final run on an error to make it 5-3 and end the winning streak at eight games for the Empire Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs tried to start a new winning streak on April 5 as they traveled to Velma-Alma for a three way against the Comets and Elmore City-Pernell.
Their next home game will take place at 6 p.m. April 6 against Ringling as they get ready for the final couple of weeks of the 2021 season with a record of 16-5.