Saturday, June 21, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Bears split with Vilonia

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills High School summer league team lost for the first time in 10 games in a doubleheader split with Vilonia on Thursday at the Sherwood Sports Complex. After dominating the opener and winning 17-2 in five innings, the Gwatney Buick-GMC squad squandered game two by giving up five unearned runs and losing 5-4.

“Even with all the errors we made, we had a lot more opportunities than they did,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. “We just did a poor job of capitalizing. We’re very young and we didn’t have nearly everybody out for this one. We’re learning. Overall I’m pleased. The thing I like about this team is that they’re fighters. They don’t quit trying till the very end.”

Game one was a blowout from the start. Vilonia played mostly junior varsity players and it showed. Leadoff hitter Lucas Burrow singled before River Hunt made the first out. Hunter Heslep was hit and the next three batters all walked. After the second out, Tyler Yoeman and Ryan Lumpkin came through with consecutive doubles to left field to drive in the last of the six runs in the frame.

Vilonia scored one run in each of the first two innings, but Sylvan Hills added four more in the bottom of the second to make it 10-2. Again Burrow started it with a single to right field and Hunt walked. Heslep hit a deep shot to center for the first out and Blake Maddox doubled to drive in both base runners. Mackenzie Seats then singled to put runners on the corners. Maddox scored when a pickoff throw from home sailed into left field. Seats had already stolen second and moved to third on the bad throw. He then scored on a balk.

The Bears started the third inning with two-straight strikeouts at the bottom of the order, but still scored four runs. Burrow got his third single, this time to left field, to start things off. Hunt reached on an error at third base and Heslep singled to center field to score Burrow. Maddox’s grounder to shortstop was flubbed, scoring Hunt. Seats singled to left to drive in Heslep, and Maddox scored from third on a wild pitch.

Yoeman led off the fourth inning with a walk and scored from first on a double to the wall in left field by Lumpkin. With one out, Burrow made it 4 for 4 with a single to left that scored Lumpkin. With two outs, Heslep reached on another error at shortstop and Maddox singled to right field to score Burrow and set the final margin.

Dalton Schuster started on the mound and got the win for Gwatney Buick-GMC. He threw three innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, three strikeouts and three walks. Maddox pitched the last two innings, giving up one hit while striking out three and walking no one.

The Bears took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning in game two with an unearned run. Burrow reached on an error at shortstop and scored four batters later on a single by Seats.

Left-hander Marcus Long took the mound for Sylvan Hills in game two and held Vilonia scoreless with just one hit in the first two innings. The Eagles then scored all five of their runs in the top of the third on three hits and three errors. Long struck out the first batter of the inning before giving up a single. Long then got the infield double-play grounder he needed to get out of the inning, but after fielding the ball and touching second base, Seats’ throw sailed into the home team’s dugout, advancing the runner to second base.

The next batter hit a routine grounder to second base that was flubbed, leaving two runners on. Back-to-back doubles to center field followed, scoring three runs. Long then got a lazy grounder back to him on the mound, but his throw to first was high, allowing the fifth and final run of the inning to cross the plate.

Sylvan Hills loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning and failed to score. They got two runs back in the bottom of the third on two hits, two hit batters and two walks. The Bears loaded the bases with no outs when Carson Sanders was hit to drive in the first run. But from that point, they managed just one more.

“We should’ve done more in that inning,” Tipton said. “You have the bases loaded with no outs and you just get one run in, you have to do better than that. That’s what killed us last year. I don’t know how many times we had situations like that and we didn’t take advantage.”

The Bears went down in order in the fourth inning and did not score in the fifth. They got their first three batters on base in the sixth inning as well but again scored just one run.

Yoeman led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left field. Lumpkin sent a sacrifice bunt down the first baseline, where the Vilonia first baseman fell down while trying to field the ball. It left both runners safe, but Yoeman tried to sneak into third base and was thrown out easily by the pitcher, who had picked up the loose ball.

Burrow then struck out for the second out. Hunt reached on an error at shortstop and Heslep walked to load the bases, but Maddox struck out to end the game.

The two games left Sylvan Hills with a record of 8-1-1 so far this summer.