Friday, March 28, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills undefeated at Florida

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills baseball team went undefeated in the Disney World High School Invitational during spring break. The event was not a tournament. Teams were split into groups of five and every team was guaranteed four games. In an odd placement, the Bears were put into a division with four teams from Illinois, and swept the Prairie State.

The Bears started the week with wins over Grayslake Central and Niles North. On Wednesday and Thursday, they beat Grayslake North 3-2 and Fenwick Prep Academy 8-5.

“We played some really good competition,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. “We were by far the smallest team there. A couple of the teams, I’d swear we were playing a college team. But the kids competed. I guess the thing that made me proudest was that everybody contributed. We took 17 players and all 17 contributed in one way or another. We played really good defense. The pitching was outstanding. It was just a really good tournament. I guess we won the state of Illinois.”

The game against GLN was a pitchers’ duel for five innings. The Bears finally broke a scoreless game in the sixth inning with three runs. Jacob White led off and got on base with an E6. Brandon Baioni moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice grounder. Three-straight base hits then brought in the three runs. Blake Maddox singled to score White. Connor Poteet then tripled to bring in Maddox, and Haden Hawkins singled to score Poteet and give the Bears a 3-0 lead.

Junior Marcus Long started and pitched five innings before leaving with a blister on his hand. He gave up just one hit. He walked the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth, but got ground ball to shortstop to get out of the inning. He retired the side in order in the fifth, striking out the last batter he faced before yielding the mound to Charlie Roberts.

Roberts put GLN down in order in the sixth, but got into some trouble in the seventh as the Knights began to rally.

After getting the leadoff batter out in the seventh, Roberts gave up a base hit, hit a batter, walked a batter and gave up two more base hits. With the Bears still clinging to a 3-2 lead, Mackenzie Seats took the mound and got a game-ending double-play ball to seal the victory.

Against Fenwick, the Bears jumped out to a 7-1 lead through five innings and then held off another late rally. It started with three runs in the first off three base hits and a hit batter. Nathan Thomas was hit to start the game. Two batters later, Chase Imhoff doubled to score Thomas. Roberts then singled to score Imhoff and Hunter Heslep doubled to drive in Roberts.

Fenwick got one in the bottom of the first, but the Bears added three more in the second. Joseph Craft started things off in the second with a leadoff walk. He moved to second on a sacrifice by Carson Sanders.

Thomas was again hit by a pitch and T.J. Burrow singled to drive in Craft. Imhoff was hit and Roberts walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run. White then hit a fly ball to center field for another RBI.

The Bears made it 7-1 in the fourth when Thomas walked and scored on a hit by Imhoff.

Fenwick closed the gap with two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth. The Bears added an unearned run in the top of the seventh to set the final margin.

White was on the mound for the duration against Fenwick. He scattered nine hits over seven innings, striking out seven and walking just two.

The Bears, 8-3, get back to conference play when they host a 5A-Central doubleheader against Mills.