Leader Blues

Monday, March 12, 2007

SPORTS >>Sylvan Hills wins its second classic title

IN SHORT: The Bears beat Cabot to win the Jacksonville baseball tournament Thursday.

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills stopped Cabot’s streak of Red Devil Classic championships last year. This year the Bears started a streak of their own by beating the Panthers 4-3 in the tournament championship game Thursday night at Dupree Park.

Cabot pitching held Sylvan Hills to just three hits, only one of which got out of the infield, but a poor inning of fielding along with patient and timely hitting were enough to lift the Bears to victory.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces this year and we’re not hitting it consistently right now, but Cabot’s a good ball team,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “(Cabot starting pitcher Justin) Haas did a great job. We like the fast ball and he brings it up there about 74, 75 miles per hour. He places it real well and did a great job tonight.”

Sylvan Hills got on the board first with no outs in the top of the second inning with Hunter Miller’s third home run of the tournament. It came in the wake of a walk drawn by Garrett Eller, and carried all the way over the light pole in left-centerfield to lift the Bears to a 2-0 lead.

Haas regrouped, and struck out the side to end the inning.

Cabot answered with a run in the bottom of the same inning, but missed an opportunity to do a lot more. The Panthers had the bases loaded with one out, but only managed the single run on a fielder’s choice grounder to third base by Corey Wade.

Shayne Burgan started the inning with a single to right field, and moved to second on a passed ball. Justin Free hit a deep fly to right that moved Burgan to third. Logan Lucas was hit by a pitch and Daryl Murphy walked to load the bases. Wade then hit the grounder that drove in Burgan, and Sylvan Hills pitcher Blaine Sims got leadoff hitter Powell Bryant to pop out to second base to end the threat.

Cabot took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with the help of two Sylvan Hills errors. Sam Bates got the rally started with a one-out walk. Colin Fuller then hit a shot to third base that was mishandled. After Burgan lined out to right, Justin Free singled to centerfield to score Bates. Another error at third off the bat of Logan Lucas allowed Fuller to score and give the Panthers a 3-2 lead.

It was Sylvan Hills’ turn to reclaim the lead and blow a grand opportunity for a huge inning in the top of the fifth. The Bears also got their runs with Cabot’s help. Nathan Eller reached second base to lead off the inning when shortstop Sam Bates threw wild to first base. Shod Neely layed down a sacrifice bunt to move Eller to third. Eller then scored on a wild pitch by Haas.

After Haas walked Mark Turpin, he was pulled for Sean Clarkson, who walked Taylor Roark. Tony Pavan then hit a grounder to short that turned into the second Cabot error of the inning.

Clarkson then committed a mental error after making a nice play to field a hard grounder back to the mound. With the bases loaded, Garrett Eller hit the shot back to the mound, Clarkson turned to go for the double play, but changed his mind, whirled to try to get Turpin at home, but was too late and had to hold the ball.

With Miller stepping to the plate with the bases still loaded, Cabot coach Jay Fitch went with Josh Brown, who got Miller to hit into a 4-3 double play to end the rally with the Bears leading 4-3.

Fitch lamented the mistake-ridden fifth.

“We come into this game and hadn’t made hardly an error in the last three of four games,” Fitch said. “We should just be playing better than that. You can get away with mistakes like that against average teams, but you’re not going to get away with them against good ball teams. Sylvan Hills is too good to be doing things like that.”

The Bears improved to 6-3 while Cabot dropped to 7-2.

Sylvan Hills starter Blaine Sims threw well, but Taylor Roark got the win in relief duty. Sims pitched four innings, giving up three hits and only one earned run. He struck out three and walked three. Roark threw the last three, giving up one hit while fanning four and walking two.

Haas also went four innings. He gave up two hits, both to Miller, struck out seven and walked three.