Leader Blues

Monday, July 09, 2007

SPORTS >>Bruins get sweep on Heber

IN SHORT: The younger group of Sylvan Hills players beat a fellow Zone 2 team Tuesday in preparation for the Zone 2 tournament that begins next week.

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Heber Springs kept it close in both games, but Sylvan Hills prevailed for a doubleheader sweep in American Legion Class AA action Tuesday night at Kevin McReynolds Field in Sherwood.

The Bruins took game one 4-2, but had trouble closing the deal on the nightcap. It took nine full innings for Sylvan Hills to get the win with a walk-off single by winning Bruins pitcher Brannon Chastain to secure the 6-5 decision.

The score was deadlocked at five runs each from the fifth inning until Chastainís fly into left field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth scored T.C. Squires and gave the Bruins the sweep.

Chastain inherited a mess in the top of the second inning. Starting pitcher Eric McKinney struggled during the opening frame, as Heberís Brockís Engineering team racked up four quick scores to take a healthy lead. Chastain shut them down from there, allowing only four hits and one run through eight innings while striking out an incredible 17 batters.

Sylvan Hills made up one of the early Heber scores with a run from Ryan Dillon. Leadoff hitter Dillon sent a hopper into left to start the bottom of the first, and tagged up on a fly out from Jordan Spears to bring in the run.

Chastain started his campaign at the mound off in style during the top of the second, striking out three batters in a total of nine pitches to send Sylvan Hills back to the plate for the bottom side. McKinney started out with a single for the Bruins in the bottom of the second, but was left stranded on the bag with two pop-ups to center and a strikeout to send it to the top of the third.

Two Heber runners managed to reach in the top of the third on errors to start out the inning, but Chastain regrouped and retired the next three batters with another 1-2-3 strikeout combo.

The difference in the game would turn out to be the bottom of the third inning. Cain Cormier started the inning out with a walk, and advanced on a steal and an error during a hit to shortstop by Ryan Dillon. Cormier tagged up for the score on a pop-up by Ty Van Schoyck to make the score 4-2.

The Bruins gave up an out on a steal after that, but it did generate a run. Spears singled, but was picked off trying to steal second. Dillon waited for the play to develop, and then charged the plate as Heber second baseman Justin Verser caught Spears for the tag.

An error at third base allowed the Bruins to put the next run in position. This time, it was Chastain who reached by taking advantage of the Heber blunder. A walk for following batter McKinney put the tying run on the path, and Cody Cormier sent them both in with a shot into left field to put the Bruins in the lead for the first time in the ballgame.

The top of the fourth would generate consecutive strikeouts number four, five and six for Chastain, but Heber brought some new power to the mound themselves for the bottom of the fourth. Cash Reeves relieved Klopp for the remainder and consequentially, the hits came much less often for Sylvan Hills.

Reeves retired Blake Rasden, Cain Cormier and Dillon in short order during the fourth. That would sent Heber back to the plate for what would turn out to be its most successful frame against the otherwise unshakeable Chastain.

Reeves and Douglass got back-to-back hits against Chastain for the only time in the game in the fifth. The single by Douglass resulted in a run for Reeves, who doubled with one out to set up the tying score.

The Bruins had their chances to end things as scheduled in the bottom of the seventh, putting a runner at third with only one out. A chop hit to third by Van Schoyck confused base runner Dillon, who took off for home with Heber shortstop Klopp holding the ball. A strikeout on Spears would be out three, sending the game into the eighth inning.

Chastainís arm held strong through the two extra innings. A double by Daniel Cranford would be his only extra-innings slip in seven batters faced. His walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth sent Squires across the plate, and secured his own win at the mound.

The Bruins took the win in game one in less dramatic fashion, relying on three RBIs from Chastain to take the win. Spears won at the mound, going all seven innings for Sylvan Hills.