Tuesday, June 05, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Senior Bruins start fast, beat Cabot

Leader sportswriter

Starting fast and finishing strong is more of a football cliché, but that strategy worked out well for the Sylvan Hills Bruins American Legion baseball team as they downed Cabot 7-4 at Mike Bromley Field on Saturday to boost their season and Central Zone record to 3-1.

Starting Cabot pitcher Casey Vaughn struggled to find the zone and allowed three walks, and also gave up two hits before being replaced in the bottom of the first inning by Dustin Morris. The Bruins made the most of those opportunities with five runs in the first frame, and added a pair of late insurance scores in the bottom of the fifth as Centennial Bank (0-6) tried to climb back into contention with four runs scattered over six innings.

Sylvan Hills pitcher J.D. Miller went the distance on the mound to earn the win for the Bruins, giving up just three hits while walking six and striking out five.

“I was very pleased with the way we played the whole game,” Bruins coach Brandon Eller said. “Any time you score five in the first, that’s huge. You have a good chance to win if you put up five in any inning. They brought in a really good pitcher, we struggled with him a little bit, but then we scratched back and got two more. That probably ended up being the difference maker – if we don’t get those two, then they could bunt a guy over and tie the game up.”

Leadoff batter Greg Atchinson walked to start the bottom of the first inning and advanced when three-hole hitter Dylan Boone reached on an infield error. They both scored when cleanup batter Lance Hunter doubled to left field, and Hunter later made it 3-1 when he reached home on a passed ball.

Miller set up the next rally with a walk and Austin Spears was hit by a pitch. Jimmy Sandefur hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Spears out.

Ryan Briscoe loaded the bases with a walk, and Corey Jones proved the Bruins’ bats to be strong throughout the order with a single that scored Miller and Sardetin. That gave Sylvan Hills a 5-1 lead, and led to a switch at the mound for Cabot as Morris came in and struck out Atchinson to finally retire the side.

“I’m sure he’s a great pitcher, but we jumped on him early,” Eller said of Vaughn. “It was good for us. We’re a team that when we get ahead early, we have a lot of success.”

Morris kept the Bruins in check until the bottom of the fifth when he walked Miller, who scored two batters later on an RBI double to right by Sandefur. Jones drove in the next run on a double, but he was later tagged out at the plate by Cabot catcher T.C. Carter for the final out.

Cabot took an early 1-0 lead when Bryson Morris led off with a single to left and advanced to third on a walk for Grant Bell and a single by Vaughn to load the bases with no outs. Justin Goff hit into a double play that also retired Vaughn and scored Morris, while Miller recorded his first strikeout to retire the side against Carter.

Centennial Bank inched closer in the top of the third when Miller walked Bell and gave up an RBI single to Vaughn. Bell struck out in the top of the fifth but was able to reach first on a passed ball and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Goff. Dustin Morris scored Cabot’s final run in the sixth when he reached on an infield error and later scored on a passed ball.

Jones was 2 for 3 with a double and three RBI for Sylvan Hills while Boone was 2 for 4 with a run. For Cabot, Vaughn was 2 for 4 with an RBI.