Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SPORTS >> Big hit eludes Bears at Porter

Leader sports writer

LITTLE ROCK – Sylvan Hills had several opportunities to score throughout its nonconference game with Little Rock Catholic on Monday at Lamar Porter Field, but could only manage one run as the Bears fell to the Rockets by the final score of 3-1.

Blake Maddox scored the first run of the game to give Sylvan Hills (14-8, 5-3) an early 1-0 lead after being hit by a pitch at the start of the second inning. Catholic (16-5, 7-2), however, put two runs on its side of the board in the bottom of the third to take the lead for good.

Joe Myers and Zach Sokora scored the two runs for the Rockets after both reached base on a pair of singles. Catholic set the final score its next at-bat. Freshman Evan Hooper led off the bottom of the fourth and reached via walk.

Lance Harville-Thomas followed Hooper’s at-bat with a single to the right-field gap, and Sokora laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced both runners. Sokora was safe at first, though, because of an errant throw to first.

Hooper scored the next at-bat on a line-drive single to center field, which set the final score.

The Bears had their chances down the stretch to cut into the Rockets’ lead, but failed to score on each occasion.

In the top of the fifth, seniors T.J. Burrow and Connor Poteet walked to start the inning, and advanced to second and third base on a double steal, but Rockets’ pitcher Zach Morris struck out the next two batters and forced Jacob White to fly-out for the third out of the inning, getting out of the jam.

In the top of the sixth, Jacob Franco started the inning at second base after reaching on an E5. He advanced to second on the errant throw to first. Catholic’s Harper Vondran, like Morris before him, got out of the jam by striking out two of the next three batters he faced, and got a pop-up in the infield to keep the Bears off the board.

Sylvan Hills had a similar situation in the top of the seventh as the Bears had runners at the corners with two outs, but Vondran was aided by a 6-3 groundout to end the game in the host team’s favor.

“We just couldn’t get a break to fall our way,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. “I think we had a lot more guys on base tonight than they (Catholic) did. It’s just about getting the hit at the right time. In the first three innings we even had guys in scoring position.

“We had chances all night. We just couldn’t get the timely hit when we needed it.”

With it being a nonconference game and with the playoffs approaching, the Bears threw their top four pitchers Monday – Marcus Long, Poteet, Maddox and Hunter Heslep – and Tipton was pleased overall with their performances on the hill.

“They threw well,” Tipton said. “We kept them to three runs. We’ve just got to score more than three. We had chances. We just didn’t get it done.”

Monday’s game with the Rockets was the fourth-straight nonconference game the Bears have played. Last week, Sylvan Hills beat Vilonia 10-6 and Little Rock Central 4-3, but lost to Benton 6-1.

The Bears will finish their regular-season schedule with three 5A-Central doubleheaders. They’ll travel to west Little Rock to face defending class 5A state champion Pulaski Academy in a twin bill tomorrow.

They’ll go back to Little Rock on Friday for a pair of conference games against Little Rock McClellan on the campus of J.A. Fair before finishing the regular season at home next Tuesday with a pair of league games against North Pulaski.