Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe Junior Legion squad hands Bears their first loss

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Post 91-O’Reilly Auto Parts Junior American Legion team didn’t score in all but one inning in their game at Sylvan Hills on Monday, but Beebe’s eight-run first inning was enough to hand the junior varsity Bears’ extended summer team its first loss of the summer, winning 8-5.

Miscues, walks, five base hits and three Sylvan Hills errors led to Beebe’s eight runs in the top of the first. Shortstop JT Nicholson and third baseman Blaine Burge both walked to start the game and O’Reilly’s three-hole hitter Mark Clairday singled to drive in Nicholson for Beebe’s first run.

Another walk loaded the bases, and two more runs scored on a couple of passed balls. More walks along with timely hits with runners in scoring position followed, helping Beebe (4-4) to its eight-run cushion.

“Timely hits,” said Beebe assistant coach John Finley. “I think we had five base hits in the first inning, and all with runners in scoring position. I thought we played pretty well. We went up there with an attitude, like we did last week against Maumelle.

“We went up there and we wanted to get on base. We wanted to get the timely hits and they finally did that, and we executed today.”

Sylvan Hills did what it could to get back in the game. The JV Bears (6-1) scored two runs each in the bottom of the first and second innings, and added their final run in the third.

The Bears scored their first two runs without a hit. Gage Taylor got Sylvan Hills’ first hit of the game in the bottom of the second with a double to right field. Jacob Galiano walked the next at-bat, and both runs scored one batter later on a Korben Wiggins single to right center.

Wiggins was thrown out at second on the play trying to stretch the single into a double, but the two-RBI hit was enough to cut Beebe’s lead to 8-4. Jason Neeley scored the last run of the game.

Neeley reached base in the bottom of the third on a fielder’s choice at second base. He advanced to second on a base hit, then to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a passed ball with two outs and Galiano at the plate.

Neeley’s run set the final score. The Bears had other opportunities to score as the game progressed, but could never push another run across the plate. In the bottom of the sixth, Sylvan Hills loaded the bases, but Beebe relief pitcher Quint Roberson struck out the next batter he faced to get out of the jam.

In the bottom of the seventh, the JV Bears had runners at second and third, but a pop-up to Beebe catcher Alec Matlock ended the game.

“We had a couple of opportunities,” said Sylvan Hills summer league coach Matt Presson. “We had the bases loaded, runners on second and third, we have to get those hits. Those timely hits, we’ve got to make sure we get those. But, it’s tough to battle back from an eight-spot.

“When you don’t make plays, you don’t throw strikes – that’s what happens. But I’m still proud of them. They fought hard, they stayed in it and they didn’t let it get them down.”

Randy Smith earned the win on the mound for Beebe. He threw the first four innings before being relieved by Roberson with one on in the bottom of the fifth. Finley said Monday’s game was probably Smith’s best outing of the summer on the hill.

“Randy pitched exceptionally well,” Finley said, “probably the best outing he’s had all year, except for his pitch count was a little high. It was right around 100. And then Quint Roberson was right around 60 through three innings and he threw well.

“He got into a jam there in the sixth and seventh innings, but we got out of it without any runs, so it was a good deal.”