Monday, July 08, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Sherwood Bears earn two wins at UALR event

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills’ Gwatney GMC Bears picked up two hard-fought wins the first two games of the Little Rock Catholic Fourth of July Showcase tournament.

On Thursday, the Bears used a strong sixth inning to blow past the junior Rockets 8-4, and on Friday, solid pitching by Marcus Long and a timely hit by Hunter Heslep helped Sylvan Hills edge Lake Hamilton 2-1 at Curran Conway Field on the UALR campus.

“We had a couple of double plays that were turned, but for the most part he just stifled them,” said Bears assistant coach Chris Foor about Long’s showing on the mound. “Between his fastball, his curveball, and his split-finger fastball, they just never were on time with him.

“It’s hot out here and we’re playing on astro turf. When you get to the seventh inning and you’re getting near that hundred pitch count, it’s tough. He basically just became a pure bulldog and just fought through.”

Long gave up just three hits and the one run Lake Hamilton scored was unearned. He also recorded eight strikeouts. Sylvan Hills scored both of its runs in the first inning. The Bears got two walks to start the inning and a sacrifice bunt the next at bat moved the runners to second and third base.

A strikeout followed, but Hunter Heslep came through with a two-out single up the middle to drive in both runs. In Thursday’s win, the Bears led early, but put the game away with a big sixth inning.

Chase Imoff and Reid Fawcett led the way offensively, and Sylvan Hills was very active on the base paths as it totaled five stolen bases in the sixth inning alone.

“They’re really learning with these new bats,” Foor said. “Yeah, being a powerhouse offensive team would be nice, but really you don’t see that many. You’ve got to play small ball and we got our bunts down, we stole bases, we got hit, we battled to get walks, and worked pitch counts up high for pitchers. They’re starting to understand the game.”

The Catholic junior team started connecting at the plate in the final inning against Bears pitcher Connor Poteet, but Poteet held off the rally for the complete game win. Poteet, who Foor said is projected to be the ace pitcher for the Sylvan Hills varsity team next spring, finished the game with seven strikeouts and only two earned runs.

Sylvan Hills played Jonesboro yesterday and will play Catholic’s older 17-year-old Rockets team today before closing tournament play tomorrow.