Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Bruins can't hold lead against NLR

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills led early in its junior American Legion matchup with North Little Rock, but the Colts took the lead for good in the third inning and held on late to narrowly beat the Bruins 8-7 on Monday at the Sherwood Sports Complex.

North Little Rock had a three-run lead going into the sixth and final inning, and in their final at bat, the Bruins did everything they could to make a valiant comeback. Sylvan Hills’ leadoff hitter Camron Flippo picked up his second single of the game to start the sixth inning.

Two-hole hitter Web Bryant walked the next at bat, but Carson Sanders hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to send Bryant back to the dugout. Bruins’ starting pitcher Reed Atkinson walked the next at bat to load the bases with one out.

North Little Rock was able to record the second out of the inning on a strikeout, but not before Flippo would score on a passed ball at home plate. Lamar Hardimane came in to pinch hit for the Bruins, but quickly fell behind in the count.

However, with two strikes, Hardimane hit a hard chopper to the gap in right field, which allowed Sanders to score with ease. Atkinson turned hard at third base on the hit, hoping to get the ‘go’ sign, but Bruins coach Matt Presson stopped him as the ball was recovered in shallow right field.

Blake Dickerson followed Hardimane’s at bat and did what he could to battle, but struck out with the bases loaded to end the game. Afterwards, Presson expressed his own disappointment with his decision to hold Atkinson at third on what could have been the game-tying run.

“Obviously I was thinking I should have sent the guy,” Presson said. “I just should have sent him. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wanted to use a pinch-hitter, but I ran out of pinch-hitters. We just kind of had to go with what we had, but I thought we played good.

“A bunch of 14-year olds, eighth-graders, playing a bunch of 15-, 16-year-old kids – I mean, they did pretty good. They competed. Reed Atkinson threw a heck of a game, but we gave them some runs. It was just errors. Leaving guys in scoring position and making errors, we’re not going to win many games doing that.”

Sylvan Hills left a total of seven runners stranded in the game compared to North Little Rock’s three. The Bruins looked to be in control after a three-run first inning, but North Little Rock matched the run total its next at bat.

Sylvan Hills retook the lead in the bottom part of the second inning on a sacrifice grounder by Atkinson. Flippo scored on the play to put the Bruins on top 4-3. Sylvan Hills scored another run in the third, but not before North Little Rock added three more to its total to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Colts increased their lead in the fifth and sixth innings with a run scored in each. Blaine Miller scored the final run for North Little Rock after picking up his second single at the start of the sixth inning. Miller was one of three Colts with multiple hits. Flippo was the only Bruin with multiple hits.

The North Little Rock junior Colts play again today as they host the Cabot junior team. That game is at 6 p.m. Sylvan Hills’ juniors resume play tomorrow at the same time against Conway at the Sherwood Sports Complex.