Monday, April 30, 2012

SPORTS >> Hillside sweeps White Hall

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills got a pair of huge road wins Thursday at previously unbeaten White Hall. The Bears entered the twin bill tied with Watson Chapel for second place, but left tied for first after handing the Bulldogs defeats of 1-0 and 5-3.

Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton has stressed all season that playing mistake-free baseball is a key for his team’s success. On Thursday the Bears committed just one error in the two games combined.

“I was very pleased with the defense,” Tipton said. “We made some key defensive plays in both games. We’re not hitting as a team like we need to, but we got some big hits at key times so it was a good night overall.”

Conner Eller pitched a complete-game three hitter in game one. He struck out nine Bulldogs en route to the victory.  The Bears got just four hits and scored the game’s only run in the second inning.

Leadoff hitter Brandon Baoni walked and stole second base. J.D. Miller then doubled to drive him home and give Eller all the cushion he would need for the next six innings.

Miller also made a big defensive play when he threw a runner out from right field who was trying to advance to third base. That throw was only a precursor to an even bigger play by Miller in game two.

Sylvan Hills scored four runs in the first inning of the nightcap to take control early. Baoni walked to start things off. Eller, game two starting pitcher Dylan Boone, Lance Hunter and David Carrasquillo each got base hits to start the game and run the White Hall starting pitcher off the mound.

After three runs had scored, Miller hit into a fielder’s choice that left him and Baoni at first and third. Tipton called for a double steal and the base running duo executed it perfectly to get another run across the plate.

Sylvan Hills added a run in the third on an error. Baoni was on second with two outs and Miller at bat. Miller struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt and headed for first base. The throw from the catcher hit Miller and Baoni scored.

White Hall got all three of its runs in the fifth inning. Two were the result of the one error the Bears committed all night.

White Hall was threatening again in the seventh when Miller made another huge play in the outfield. With one out and a runner at second, White Hall got a base hit to right field. The runner rounded third and Miller came up throwing. His throw was on target and got the runner at the plate.

“It was a rocket,” Tipton said. “It was one of the best throws I’ve seen and it was a huge play. If he scores it’s 5-4 with one out and maybe a runner on second. Instead it was 5-3 with two outs and a runner on first.”

Carrasquillo got the next batter to groundout to shortstop to end the game. The Bears can earn at least a share of the 5A Southeast championship with a sweep of Monticello next week, but they’ll need some help for an outright championship or a No. 1 seed in the state tournament.

Watson Chapel holds the tiebreaker over Sylvan Hills, so the Bears need White Hall to take at least one of two from Chapel next week.