Tuesday, July 08, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills finishes well at Showdown

Leader sportswriter

The Gwatney Buick-GMC Bears of Sylvan Hills ended their summer baseball season on a high note Saturday by overcoming a four-run deficit to beat the Little Rock Express Kilgore team 5-4 at the eighth annual Rockets Summer Showdown tournament at Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock.

Sylvan Hills lost its first game in pool play, but won its next three games to finish the showcase tournament with a 3-1 record. The Gwatney Buick-GMC Bears lost 2-0 to the Little Rock Catholic High Rockets’ summer team in Thursday’s tournament opener at UALR’s Gary Hogan Field.

Later that night, Sylvan Hills overcame another four-run deficit to beat Conway Fieldhouse 8-6 at Lamar Porter Field, and on Friday, the Gwatney Buick-GMC Bears returned to Gary Hogan Field to beat Benton by the final score of 5-1.

Saturday’s game was just like Thursday night’s game against Conway, as the Bears fell into a 4-0 hole going into the bottom of the sixth inning. The Express Kilgore team scored the game’s first run in the top of the second inning, and added its next three runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Sylvan Hills scored four of its five runs Saturday in the bottom of the sixth – all of which came with two outs. Mackenzie Seats got on base via walk to start the two-out, sixth-inning rally, and with teammate Carson Sanders at the plate, Seats stole both second and third base before Sanders eventually walked to put runners at the corners.

That brought first baseman Hunter Heslep to the plate, and he picked up his third hit of the day with a two-RBI double to deep right center, which cut the Express lead to 4-2.

River Hunt reached on an error at third base the next at-bat, and designated hitter Joe Craft followed with a triple to right field that drove in both Heslep and Hunt and tied the game at 4-4.

The Express team failed to score in the top of the seventh, and the Bears picked up where they left off their next at-bat. Center fielder and leadoff hitter Lukas Burrow hit an infield single to second base to get things going for Sylvan Hills in the bottom of the seventh.

Burrow would have beaten the throw to first regardless, but the late throw to first from the Express second baseman sailed, and Burrow ended up at second base as a result of the errant throw.

Seats singled to the left-field gap the following at-bat, and with runners at the corners, Little Rock Express pitcher Ben Smith intentionally walked Bears three-hole hitter Blake Maddox to load the bases with one out.

Smith struck out Sanders the next at-bat for the second out of the inning, which brought Heslep back to the plate. At that point in the game, Heslep was 3 for 3 with two singles and a double, and the Express team tried a little trickery to get out of the jam.

Smith faked a pickoff throw to second base and instead went to third in an attempt to catch the potential game-winning run off guard. Burrow, who was at third, bit on the fake to second and would have easily been thrown out on the play had the throw from Smith been accurate.

However, Smith’s throw to third was low and got by the Express third baseman, which in turn, allowed Burrow to score the game-ending run, setting the final score at 5-4.

Even though Sylvan Hills went 3-1 in pool play, so did Catholic, and since Catholic beat the Bears head-to-head Thursday, the Rockets were the ones that got to move on and play in the playoff round on Sunday.

In Saturday’s summer finale for the Bears, Heslep led the way offensively with his 3 for 3 showing at the plate. Burrow and Seats had two hits each in that game, and Craft went 1 for 2 to round out the Bears’ eight hits.

Seats got the win on the hill. He took over for Craft in the top of the sixth, and gave up one run on two hits and one walk in the two innings of work. He also recorded one strikeout.