Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills is still rolling

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears capped their best week of the season with a 12-2 win over class 6A Searcy at the Sherwood Sports Complex on Friday. The day before, the Bears beat 6A’s No. 1 ranked team, Benton. And earlier in the week reeled off two easy conference wins over Helena-West Helena Central.

“We’re playing pretty good,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “We beat two very good teams. Benton and Searcy are very strong programs. Any time you beat those two back-to-back, that’s a good week.”

The Bears (12-7) also found some power against the Lions. Sylvan Hills did not have a home run this season, but hit two on Friday. Senior pitcher J.D. Miller also turned in another dominant performance on the mound, pitching six innings, striking out 12 and giving up just three hits.

“He’s always had the stuff,” Tipton said of Miller. “He’s right up there with any of my other top guys I’ve had in the past. He’s always had great breaking stuff, always thrown hard with good movement. He’s shown flashes of it his whole career, like the way he went up to Jonesboro last year and dominated. His only deal has been consistency. He’s had some control problems in the past and when he didn’t stay ahead, he could become erratic. This year he’s been extremely consistent and he’s been dominant. You take out his first inning of the year, since then he’s been as good as anyone else around. He’s solved those control problems.”

Sylvan Hills built an early lead with four runs in the bottom of the second inning, but Searcy answered with its two runs in the top of the third.

It was the bottom of the third when the Bears introduced the long ball to the 2013 season.

Chase Imoff started things off with a solo home run to left field. After a Brandon Baioni single, T.J. Burrow went opposite field for a two-run homer and a 6-2 Sylvan Hills lead.

“Chase’s homer was our team’s first all year,” Tipton said. “Then we get our second one the same inning. I like the way we’re swinging the bats right now.” Burrow got another RBI in the fourth inning when he singled to score Miller.

Back-to-back doubles produced three more runs in the fifth inning. Jacob White and Blake Maddox each singled. Charlie Roberts then doubled to score both runners, and Miller doubled to score Roberts for an 11-2 lead.

Sylvan Hills enacted the mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth when Burrow was hit by a pitch, Reid Fawcett singled and Hunter Heslep singled to score Burrow.

After a slow start to the season that saw two bad losses and a few close losses, Tipton isn’t surprised to see his team playing so well.

“Really I didn’t think we would struggle as much early as we did,” Tipton said. “I thought we would play good defense and I thought our pitching would be pretty good. Our nonconference schedule, I think I could put up against anybody’s out there, and we still have some tough ones left. I feel like whoever we play, we have a chance to win the way we’re playing right now.”

Sylvan Hills doesn’t play again until a 5A-Central doubleheader at Little Rock McClellan on Thursday.