Friday, April 13, 2012

SPORTS >> Bears split with Wildcats

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills and Watson Chapel are now tied for second place in the 5A Southeast after a doubleheader split Tuesday at the Sherwood Sports Complex. The Bears and Wildcats entered the game in a four-way tie for first place with Monticello and White Hall. All four teams were 6-0 heading into Tuesday’s games. White Hall swept Monticello to take over sole possession of first place and drop the Billies to fourth.

“We still control our own destiny,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “If someone beats Watson Chapel and we win out, we’ll still win this conference. Of course if we both win out, we’ll tie for the championship but have to settle for the two seed.”

The reason the Bears would have to settle for the two seed in that scenario is that after winning game one 4-1, they lost game two 7-0.

“That’s the disappointing thing,” Tipton said. “We were down 3-0 and at least two runs were unearned. Then we give up a big inning right at the end there. I thought we just lost focus a little bit and that hurt us.”

Chapel left-hander Zack Bradford was outstanding on the mound in game two. He gave up just three hits over seven innings while striking out six and walking just one Sylvan Hills batter. He threw four innings of no-hit ball from the third through the sixth inning before Lance Hunter doubled with two outs in the seventh.

Chapel got all the runs it needed in the bottom of the second game. V.J. Dickson reached with no outs via an error at second base. Jordan Stargile then tripled to the wall in centerfield to score Dickson.

Sylvan Hills pitcher Dylan Boone struck out the next two batters with Stargile still on third base. Stargile should have scored on passed ball with two outs, but failed to touch home plate. He was tagged on appeal while walking to the dugout and the umpire called him out.

A two-out error in the fifth sparked a mini rally by Chapel. Justin Dardene singled to left field where it one-hopped past the fielder and rolled to the fence, leaving Dardene safe at third base. Bradford then singled to center to score Dardene and Reece Huffton doubled to left field to score Bradford’s courtesy runner.

Bradford came through big again in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Stargile led off with a single and stole second, he scored on an errant throw while trying to steal third. Boone walked Cameron Banks and yielded to Hunter who came for relief duties. Hunter struggled with control, walking two more, then giving up a triple to Bradford that scored three more runs.

Boone went five innings, giving up seven hits while fanning three and walking two.

Conner Eller went the distance and got the win in game one. He gave up just two hits over seven innings while striking out six and walking three.

The Bears scored in the bottom of the first when Dalton Freeling walked and Boone drove him in with a double.

They added two more in the second. Hunter reached on an error in centerfield and Jacob White singled to put runners on the corners. T.J. Burrows singled to score Hunter and again leave runners on the corners. Leadoff hitter Brandon Baoni then hit a deep fly ball to center that scored White to make it 3-1.

J.D. Miller got the final run when he scored from third on a passed ball and getting a base hit and advancing on two sacrifice flies.

The Bears are now 16-6 overall and 7-1 in conference play. They will face Little Rock Central on Monday in Little Rock, and will get back to conference play next Thursday at North Pulaski.