Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Bears get back on track

Leader sports editor

On Saturday, the Sylvan Hills baseball team responded well to its worst day of the season that took place Thursday. In their final two games of the Central Arkansas Invitational, the Bears beat Little Rock Central and Maumelle 5-3 in consecutive outings at Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock.

The two wins came after back-to-back losses to El Dorado and Arkadelphia at home on Thursday, the team’s only two losses of the season.

In the early game on Saturday, the Bears (14-2) got out-hit by the Tigers 8-6, but were more efficient and took advantage of three fourth-inning errors in a three-run frame.

Leading 2-1, Sylvan Hills’ Kyle Clayton drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the fourth. Spencer Zilkey then hit a hard grounder to the second-base side of shortstop where Aaron Mann made an easy grab. But his lob to second for the first of what should’ve been a double play was dropped on the exchange. Clayton was out, but Zilkey was safe at first.

Leadoff hitter Michael Coven then ripped a deep fly ball over the fence in left field for a two-RBI home run that made it 4-1. After Zach Douglass grounded out to short. River Hunt hit a fly ball to right that was dropped, and stole second base. Central intentionally walked Nick Fakouri. Hunt then tried to steal the third, and the throw from home sailed into left field, allowing Hunt to trot in for a four-run lead.

Central (1-12-1) got a rally going in the top of the seventh when its first two batters reached base on a HBP and a single to right field. A wild pitch moved the runners up, and Mann hit a fly ball to the wall to score Luke Porter from third. Garrett Hatfield then singled to drive in another run, but the next two batters grounded out to end the threat.

Sylvan Hills scored a run in the first inning. Coven hit a leadoff single and stole second base. Two outs later, Fakouri singled to drive in Coven.

In the second inning, Gage Taylor was hit by a pitch and scored on a double to center field by Chaz Poppy. Central’s other run came in the top of the third on a double by Mann and a single by Charles Pyron.

Cameron Flippo threw 6 2/3 innings for the win. He gave up three earned runs on eight hits; with three strikeouts, zero walks and two hit batters.

Flippo pitched through some early trouble and got through the first two innings unscathed despite three of the Tigers’ first five batters reaching base on errors.

In the later game, Sylvan Hills again scored first, but had to come from behind for the win. In the bottom of the third, Douglass reached on a one-out walk before Hunt got on base because of an error in center field that moved Douglass to third. He then scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead.

That’s how it stayed until the third inning. Sylvan Hills starting pitcher Braden Withrow cruised through the first two innings and two batters. Withrow retired the first eight batters in a row, but then failed to get any of the next five out. He had two outs and two strikes on Maumelle nine-hole hitter Ethan Cash when Cash poked a single into right field.

Withrow then hit leadoff hitter Mo’Nique Wilkerson. Nicholas Grimsley then singled to drive in Cash before Withrow hit #24. Cleanup hitter #17 then hit a two-RBI single to left field to put the Hornets up 3-1.

Ray Young took the mound for the Bears and struck out Brody Ammons to get out of the jam. He also pitched the fourth and fifth innings, giving up one base hit and no runs.

Sylvan Hills then rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Caleb McMunn drew a leadoff walk and was replaced on the bases by pinch runner Jacob Galiano. Poppy then singled to center field, and the catcher was replaced by courtesy runner Payton Terry. Clayton’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third base, and Zilkey singled to left to drive in Galiano.

Coven then singled to drive in Terry, and Zilkey was able to score when Wilkerson misplayed the bounce and let the ball get by him and roll to the wall. Two batters later, Coven scored on a single to left by Hunt to set the final margin.