Friday, July 27, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Bruin hits for cycle, leads to victory

Leader sportswriter

Dylan Boone’s effective pitching and J.D. Miller’s dominant performance at the plate helped catapult Sylvan Hills to a 5-2 win over Paragould in the first game of the 2012 Arkansas Senior American Legion State Tournament Friday at North Little Rock’s Burns Park.

Miller went 4 for 4 at the plate and managed to hit for the cycle. His three-run home run in the first inning towered well over the 375 foot mark in straight-center field, giving the Bruins an early 3-0 lead.

After Miller’s home run, both teams were held scoreless until the fifth inning when Sylvan Hills added two more runs to its lead. Three-hole hitter Lance Hunter walked to start the inning, and after advancing to second base on a passed ball, Miller singled to the left field gap to move Hunter to third.

With right fielder Hunter Heslep in the batter’s box, Hunter scored on another passed ball at the plate to put the Bruins up 4-0. A couple of pitches later, Heslep hit a line drive single to left-center field. Miller scored on the play to give Sylvan Hills a five-run lead.

Paragould scored its first run in their next at bat when third baseman Zachary Hobbs singled to drive in Thomas McMillion after McMillion hit a stand-up double to start the inning. Paragould scored again in the seventh when McMillion hit a sacrifice fly to the wall in left field.

Leadoff hitter Eric Wilcoxson scored on the play to make the score 5-2 after walking earlier in the inning. It was the lone walk Boone would give up in the game. Boone pitched all nine innings, striking out eight in the winning effort.

“I knew we were going to have to play better defense and pitch well to win because a couple of our hitters were gone,” said Sylvan Hills coach Brandon Eller. “Boone came out and gave me nine innings just like he did last week. He was dominant. He pitched out of a bases loaded jam early that could’ve changed the game.

“To walk one guy, that’s impressive. Defensively, we made one error. That’s a first. We played good defense. Hitting-wise, we haven’t been hitting as well as we’ve been hitting. But we got a couple of big hits when we needed them. J.D. hit that bomb in the first and hit for the cycle. That’s pretty impressive. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one of our kids hit for the cycle before.”

Heslep was the only other Bruin with multiple hits in the game, going 2 for 4 with an RBI. Both Connor Eller and Austin Spears also had a hit. With a single, double, and home run already under his belt, Miller achieved the cycle with a stand-up triple to deep right field in the bottom of the seventh.

“I never hit a cycle, so it’s a pretty cool deal for me,” Miller said. “I usually do hit better in Legion, but I don’t know why. I think I’ve just been feeling it. Coach Eller has done a real good job. He’s helped me a lot this year with hitting. A lot of the credit goes to him.”

With the win, Sylvan Hills is in the winner’s bracket of the tournament and the Bruins will play the winner of the Bentonville/Texarkana game today at 4 p.m. at Burns Park.