Friday, May 12, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside Bears hold off a late rally by Rams

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills baseball team won its first game as host of the Class 5A state baseball tournament Thursday at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood. The Bears led 7-1 and then held off a late rally to beat Hot Springs Lakeside 8-6.

Less than a week after a sterling outing against Beebe in the 5A-Central Conference tournament, Sylvan Hills pitcher River Hunt struggled to find the strike zone. But the offense was good early and Hunt battled through five and a third innings to get the win.

“I think we just played tight,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. “We’ve been waiting for this all season. We’re hosting. We were just a little tight. Obviously it wasn’t River’s best stuff today. But we’ll take it. We get to keep playing, and the good news is we know we can play a lot better than this.”

Hunt only gave up four base hits, but he walked six and hit one while striking out seven.

The Rams had two runners on with one out in the first inning before Hunt fanned the next two batters. Sylvan Hills (30-7) then got the first of two home runs to take an early lead.

Zach Douglass singled with one out before Nick Fakouri smashed one over the wall in left field for the quick 2-0 lead.

Lakeside got one back in the top of the second inning. Brody Prince hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Race Tittle. Hunt then fanned the next two batters. Leadoff hitter Justin Scott walked, but Jack Bornhoff grounded back to the mound to end the inning.

No one scored again until the Bears posted five runs in the bottom of the third inning. Leadoff hitter Michael Coven walked to start the rally, and scored on a double to center field by Douglass. Fakouri and Ryan Lumpkin drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Douglass and a sacrifice fly by Hunt brought in Fakouri. Chaz Poppy then blasted a two-run home to make it 7-1.

That’s how it stayed until the top of the sixth, when Lakeside (17-10) scored three runs on no hits. Hunt walked Tittle and hit Ethan Bates to start the inning. He then struck out No. 3 before walking Scott to load the bases. That was it for Hunt, and Ray Young replaced him on the mound.

Young walked Bornhoff to make the score 7-2. A grounder to first base scored Bates and left runners at second and third. Young then hit Colton O’Keefe to load them up again, and then hit Carter West to make the score 7-4.

Young was replaced by Camron Flippo, who needed just one pitch to get Prince to fly out to center field and thwart a near disaster.

In the bottom of the sixth, Coven hit a one-out single and made his way around the bases by stealing second, taking third on a passed ball and scoring on a wild pitch.

Tittle got a leadoff single to start the top of the seventh. Flippo then walked Bates to put two on with no outs. He got No. 28 to ground out to third base and then fanned Scott. Bornhoff then hit a two-RBI single to left to make it 8-6, and stole second base.

Zack McLugin then hit a fly ball to deep center field, but Hunt got under it for the final out.

Douglass was the only Bear with multiple base hits. He went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Bornhoff and Tittle each had two base hits for the Rams.

“Fakouri got a home run for us in the first inning, and Chaz got one in the third and those were huge for us,” said Tipton.