Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

SPORTS >> AAA Bruins too much for ’Cats

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: The Bruins took both games of a doubleheader against the Conway Wampus Cats Monday night at Kevin McReynolds Field in American Legion Class AAA action.

Sylvan Hills had an easy time with the Wampus Cats on Monday, sweeping both sides of a Class AAA American Legion twin bill at Kevin McReynolds Field in Sherwood. The Bruins won game one 4-1, followed by a strong offensive performance in game two to win 10-6.

Both starting pitchers went the distance for Sylvan Hills. Tony Pavan increased his season record to 6-3 in the opener, allowing five hits while giving up only one walk and striking out four batters.

Pavan retired eight straight batters from the top of the fifth until the top of the seventh, when an error allowed Casey Cooper to reach in the final inning.

Pavan has had a noticeable improvement in endurance while on the mound this summer.

He credits an increase in confidence as a key factor in his increased stamina.

“I feel like my arm is getting stronger,” Pavan said. “I have been able to build my confidence and strength. As the game went on, I felt like I could get ahead of the batters. That is what I think keeps me effective.”

Although Taylor Roark gave up eight hits and four walks in the nightcap, Conway did most of the damage in a single inning.

The Wampus Cats had their way with Roark in the top of the fourth inning, but he settled down for the remainder of the contest, only allowing two hits and one RBI from the fifth inning on.

The Bruins grabbed the lead early on in the opener off a RBI double from Ritchie Irvin that drove in Shawn Bybee and Austin Gwatney.

Bybee recorded a RBI of his own in the bottom of the fourth, sending in Nathan Van Schoyck with a single to give Sylvan Hills a 3-1 lead.

Taylor Roark added the final run for the Bruins in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring on a passed ball after reaching on an E7 fly.

The second game was a high- scoring affair, with 17 total hits in the game. Conway used the losing effort as a pitching clinic, putting five different hurlers on the mound throughout the contest.

Conway took the lead in the top of the second inning with a single from Jeremy Atkins that scored Luke Pruett for the first run of the game.

Sylvan Hills scored two runs in the bottom of the second courtesy of four straight base on balls from starting ‘Cats pitcher Jon Houston. Jordan Leach replaced Houston at the mound at that point.

Gwatney was the first batter Leach would face in the inning, forcing him into a rare 1-2-3 double play to retire the side for the Wampus Cats.

Conway took control of the game briefly in the top of the fourth inning. The Wampus Cats racked up four runs off of five hits and two walks from Roark to reclaim the lead 5-3 heading into the bottom of the fourth.

The lead did not last very long for Conway. The Bruins retaliated in the bottom of the inning with five runs off of five hits and two walks at the hands of two different Wampus Cat pitchers.

Gwatney drove in two runs with a single to left, and Hayden Miller followed that with a two-run RBI double of his own that scored Ryan Wood and Gwatney. Miller then came in with an Irwin single to give the Bruins an 8-5 lead after four.

Irwin and Jarrett Boles added the final two runs for Sylvan Hills in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Conway tried to mount a rally in the final inning, but a single run off of one walk and one hit was all Roark would allow, securing the win and the clean sweep for the Bruins.

Miller was 3 for 4 in game two with a triple and two RBIs. Boles was 2 for 3 for Sylvan Hills. For Conway, Atkins was 2 for 2 with a RBI.

The Bruins head into the final stretch of their regular-season schedule this week. They faced Gwatney Chevrolet at Dupree Park in another doubleheader last night after Leader deadlines, and will play a nine-inning road game against North Little Rock today at 6 p.m.

This weekend will wrap up season play for Sylvan Hills, with single nine-inning games at home against Russellville on Saturday and Little Rock Red on Sunday.