Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> 4A champs battle back on Bears

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills baseball team held a seven-run lead after the first inning of Friday’s nonconference game against two-time defending Class 4A state champion Arkadelphia, but the visiting Badgers finished the game with eight unanswered runs, including the go-ahead run in the seventh, to beat the Bears 8-7 in Sherwood.

Sylvan Hills (5-1, 2-0) looked as if it might run away with the game early, as the Bears scored all seven of their runs in the first inning to lead 7-0 after one.

Arkadelphia (2-2), though, showed its championship poise and was able to steadily chip away at the Bears’ lead.

After the first inning, the Bears’ batters went the rest of the game without a hit, and the Badgers scored three runs in the second inning, two in the third, two in the fourth and one in the seventh to leave Mike Bromley Field with the narrow victory.

“That was a lot of it,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton of his team’s struggles at the plate Friday. “We had a couple of opportunities late and we could never get the hit back. I give them (Arkadelphia) credit. They just kind of grinded back.

“You could see why they’re the two-time defending state champs. They just kind of grinded their way back. I think our youthfulness came into play. Instead of continuing to play to win, we started worrying about how they might come back and beat us. But, hey, it’s good for us.

“It’s something that we can really learn from and, hopefully, it won’t happen again.”

Mackenzie Seats led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple, and he scored the game’s first run three batters later on a one-out single by clean-up hitter Jacob Franco.

Lukas Burrow walked with the bases loaded later on in the inning – giving him an easy RBI and the Bears a 4-0 lead. That brought Seats back to the plate, and with the bases loaded and two outs, Seats hit a bases-clearing single to right field, putting the hosts on top 7-0.

Unfortunately for the Bears, their bats went quiet for the remainder of the game. After a three-run second inning, the Badgers scored their two runs in the third on a two-run home run by three-hole hitter Clay Wilson, which made it a 7-5 ballgame.

The Bears’ pitching struggled with placement in the fourth inning, and as a result, the Badgers’ next two runs were scored on a wild pitch and a passed ball – tying the game at 7-7.

Errant throws once again plagued the Bears in the top of the seventh. With the score still at seven apiece, Arkadelphia’s Cutter Jester reached base after being hit by a pitch. He then stole second, and on the same play, stole third because of a wild throw from behind home plate. 

Just before Jester made it safely to third, the throw from right field to third base ended up in the Badgers’ dugout, which allowed Jester to safely cross home plate and set the final score in the process.

Dillon Parnham got the official win on the mound for the Badgers. He took to the hill at the start of the fourth inning, and pitched the remainder of the game – giving up no walks and no hits while striking out five Bears’ batters.

Seats led Sylvan Hills Friday with two hits, while Franco and Hunter Heslep each had one. Brandon Matros and Wilson led the Badgers with two hits apiece.