SPORTS>>Bruins get early comeback
Leader sports writer
The first half of the game belonged to Benton, but a strong performance at the plate in the bottom of the third inning was all Sylvan Hills needed to take a 3-0 deficit and turn it into a two-point lead. A pair of insurance runs in the sixth allowed the Bruins to take the win 7-4 over Big Red Fina in a great comeback performance Monday night at Kevin McReynolds Field.
SH hurler Blaine Sims gave up five hits early, but shut Benton down at the plate from the fourth inning through the sixth inning. Sims only allowed one more hit in the top of the seventh that scored another run, but it would not be enough to send the game past its scheduled seven innings.
“We’re kind of evolving,” Bruins coach Mike Bromley said. “We’ve been making a lot of mistakes, but the guys have been trying to correct some of those things in practice, and it’s starting to work a little bit. We hope to be in good shape by district.”
The Bruins took the win despite the absence of catcher Taylor Roark and Jared Eller, who were both at an orientation at Henderson State. Bromley says even though the season is into its third week, few of the starting positions are actually set in stone.
“Everybody’s fighting for a spot right now,” Bromley said. “Whoever does the best in each position are the boys that are going to play.” Bromley was also complimentary of Sims’ performance on the mound Monday.
“He’s been working on his command,” Bromley said, “putting the ball where he wants it. He did a good job tonight.”
Sylvan Hills’ five-run spree in the third came with two outs on the board. Leadoff hitter Grant Garlington started the inning off with a fly to shortstop, but Matt Rugger squeezed in a single to left between Garlington’s fly and another infield pop up from three-hole hitter Ross Bogard.
Benton pitcher Heston Besancon had looked fairly solid in the first two innings, and quickly got two outs in the third from the SH pop ups, but would give up three more hits, along with two Fina fielding errors to allow Sylvan Hills to the lead.
Besancon committed the first error himself on a bunt from cleanup hitter Jarrett Boles, allowing Rugger in for the first score, and then gave up a hit right field from Nathan Eller that scored Joe Gardener. Gardener had reached on a walk, bringing in a run to pull the Bruins to within a score.
The tying run came in on a single by David Simpson. Tony Pavan was the next SH batter up, grounding to shortstop for what appeared to be the third out, but the throw to first from Fina shortstop Mark Lewis was way too high, and Eller and Simpson took the easy trip around the diamond to score runs four and five to put the Bruins up for the first time all night.
Sims made sure Sylvan Hills stayed out in front, sending Benton three and out in the top of the fourth with a pair of strikeouts, and catcher Simpson made the best play of the fifth inning when he picked off an attempted steal at second Tyler Keene after Keene singled to right center.
Benton started out the sixth inning with its cleanup hitter, but Sims sent the 4-5-6 Fina batters out with two easily handled infield smacks and a fly to center.
Pavan, for all intents and purposes, put a cap on the game in the bottom of the sixth when he led off with a triple deep into left centerfield. He would score along with hit-by-pitch recipient Garlington on a double from Gardener to put the Bruins up 7-3.
Dustin Johnson scored the final run for Benton in the seventh despite being struck out by Sims. Johnson reached on a passed ball during the third strike from Sims, and was driven in by a single to center from Lewis. An error at first put one more runner on for Big Red Fina, but Sims was able to close by forcing a ground ball to SH shortstop Eller for the final out of the game.
Both teams put runners on with hits in the first inning, but neither was able to capitalize for a score. Benton struck first in the top of the second inning with a single form Blake Childress that scored Stuart Snell. Fina added two more runs in the top of the second off two hits and an error to give them the early advantage.
Sims took the win for Sylvan Hills, allowing seven hits while striking out six and walking none. The Bruins finished with 10 hits for seven runs, and committed two errors. Pavan led Sylvan Hills at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a triple and three RBIs. Gardener also finished with two RBIs, with the remaining three coming from Boles, Eller and Simpson.