Friday, March 24, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers, Wildcats surprise SH Bears

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears unbeaten streak came to an abrupt and shocking end Thursday in the first round of the Central Arkansas Invitational. The previously 12-0 Bears took on the 2-5 El Dorado Wildcats in the first round and lost 8-4 at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood.

Later that afternoon in the losers’ bracket, the Bears faced 2-10 Arkadelphia, a team they had beaten 12-0 earlier in the season, and lost 2-1. The last inning of that game becoming a microcosm of the day the Bears had.

Arkadelphia leadoff hitter Eric Groom hit a one-out grounder to shortstop, where Michael Coven flubbed it. Then, upon rounding up the loose ball, sailed his toss back to the pitcher into the Bears’ dugout, allowing Groom to reach second base. A failed pickoff allowed him to advance to third, and a balk walked in the game-winning run.

“I just don’t think we deserved to win either game,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. “El Dorado just out-played us. They committed fewer errors, walked fewer, got more hits. Sometimes, you play good enough to deserve to win, and don’t win for whatever reason. But most of the time, the team that deserves to win does win, and that’s all that happened there. Then just now, I just thought Arkadelphia wanted to be here more than we did. We just didn’t deserve to win. It’s pretty simple.”

Against El Dorado, the Bears took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Coven drew a leadoff walk and Caleb McMunn singled.

Hunt hit a sac fly to move Coven to third. Three-straight walks drove in two runs, and Chaz Poppy’s sac fly scored Ryan Lumpkin for a 3-0 SH lead.

Three quick runs has been a recipe for success all season long for the Bears, but it didn’t hold on Thursday. El Dorado got one back in the third. Micah Haney singled and Connor Cates doubled to make it 3-1. Neither team scored in the fourth, and the Wildcats took the lead in the top of the fifth. Nine-hole hitter Daniel Johnson hit a leadoff double, and scored on an error at shortstop.

Brennan Smith walked and Jacob B0shears singled to drive in another run. Derek Jobe then doubled to right-center field to give the Wildcats a 5-3 lead.

Sylvan Hills got one back with a single by Nick Fakouri and an RBI double by Zach Douglass in the bottom of the sixth. El Dorado then set the final margin with three runs on three singles and an error, all with two outs, in the seventh inning.

Sylvan Hills finishes the 16-team, four-site tournament today. The Bears will travel to rival Jacksonville in a return to conference play on Tuesday. That doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.