SPORTS>> Sylvan Hills takes two from Devils
By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor
First-place Sylvan Hills took advantage of shorthanded and last place Jacksonville in a AAAAA-East doubleheader Tuesday afternoon at the Sherwood sports complex.
The Bears got to play a scheduled road series at home and swept both games from the Red Devils to remain undefeated in conference play. Sylvan Hills won game one 15-5 and prevailed 11-0 in game two.
The double dip was scheduled to take place at Jacksonville on Monday, but weekend rains forced the game to Tuesday. Hickingbotham Field never dried and the decision was made to move it to Sherwood.
Jacksonville also played without four starters, including senior Zach Darr, who is first in Jacksonville’s pitching rotation for game one of doubleheaders.
Tuesday, that duty fell to sophomore Eric Berry, who gave up 10 runs in two-and-a-third innings before leaving the mound.
Sylvan Hills’ bats were hot from beginning to end of game one as the Bears scored in every inning of the run-rule-shortened game two.
Chase Elder, who started in the outfield and left after the third inning to prepare to take the mound in game two, got things rolling in the first inning with a flare single to left field.
Brandon Eller followed with a walk, but Elder was thrown out when pitcher Matt Presson hit into a fielder’s choice. Cody Sanders hit a deep fly to centerfield that was misplayed, allowing both base runners to score on the play.
Presson stepped to the mound in the bottom of the first and sat the Red Devils down in order.
Trey Enis led off the second inning with a single to left field and scored two batters later on a single by Shawn Bybee. Bybee’s single was the first of four straight by Sylvan Hills. Hayden Miller, Elder and Eller provided the next three, with Elder and Eller each picking up an RBI.
Presson grounded out to second base to score the final run of the inning as the Bears took a 5-0 lead after one and a half.
Jacksonville went three up, three down again in the bottom of the second, and Sylvan Hills made it 10-0 in the third.
Baker singled to lead off the inning and the next two batters flew out to centerfield. That paved the way for some two-out Bear longball. Bybee and Miller hit back-to-back doubles, with each gathering an RBI, and Elder and Eller followed with the fireworks. The lefty Elder hit a two-run home run down the right-field line. Eller, who bats right-handed, went opposite field over the fence in right on the next at bat to make it 10-0.
Jacksonville finally got something going offensively when Eller flubbed the throw to first on a grounder by Jeremy Williams. A passed ball and a wild pitch got Williams to third, and freshman Cameron Hood singled to right field to score Williams. Blake Mattison walked and Hood stole third base. Another passed ball allowed Hood to take home and make it 10-2. The rest of the game was mostly played by reserves.
Sylvan Hills scored four runs in the fourth and another in the top of the fifth inning. Jacksonville rallied in the bottom of the fifth and almost closed the margin to within the run-rule limit, but a pop up to shortstop by Jake Ussery ended the rally with the bases loaded.
Chase Elder turned in the best offensive performance of the game, going 3 for 3 with a double, a home run and three RBIs.
Sylvan Hills is now 6-0 in conference play while Jackson-ville falls to 0-6.
Sylvan Hills will take part in the Conway tournament this weekend before coming back to take on Forrest City on April 5. Jacksonville is off until April 5. They play at Mountain Home.