SPORTS>>Sylvan Hills gets shutout in opener
Leader sports editor
The Sylvan Hills AA team got a win in the opening round of the Class AA Zone 3 tournament Thursday night at Burns Park. The Bruins toppled Heber Springs 4-0 on the strength of an outstanding performance on the mound by left-handed hurler Brannon Chastain. Chastain went all nine innings, striking out 13 while walking just one batter. He got stronger as the game went on, evidenced by his striking out the side for the first time in the top of the eighth inning.
“He did a great job of placing his pitches and throwing strikes,” Sylvan Hills AA coach Jim Fink said. “He didn’t walk very many and put pitches in spots where they were hard to hit.”
Chastain’s only serious trouble came in the fourth inning, right after the Bruins took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
Heber Springs centerfielder Tyler Thomas led off with a single, and Cash Reeves reached on an error in right field to put runners at first and second with no outs. The threat was short-lived. Starting pitcher Josh Clap squared around to bunt, but popped it up right to catcher Blake Rix while the bunt-and-run was on. Rix caught the easy pop up and fired to first, where second baseman Ryan Dillon was covering for the 2-4 double play.
The game was uneventful for two-and-a-half innings. The Bruins came alive in the bottom of the third to take a three-run lead. Catcher Blake Rix got the ball rolling for Sylvan Hills with a leadoff walk. Leadoff hitter Casey Cerrato followed with another walk. After Ryan Dillon moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt, a passed ball allowed Rix to score the first run of the game. Nathan Eller then doubled to left field to score Cerrato. Eller then scored on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Jordan Spears then singled, but a strikeout and a groundout to third base ended the rally.
The Bruins rallied again in the fifth, but came away empty after a Heber Springs pitcher change. With one out, Spears and Chastain hit back-to-back singles, followed by a walk by Ty Van Schoyck that loaded the bases. Heber Springs removed starter Josh Clap and replaced him with shortstop Cash Reeves, who struck out the next two batters to get out of the base-loaded jam he inherited.
The game’s final run came in the eighth inning via two Heber Springs errors. Rix reached on an error at shortstop with one out. Two batters later with two outs, Rix scored when Heber second baseman Justin Verser fired high to first base for what would have been the final out of the inning.
Heber Springs totaled four hits while the Bruins doubled that amount. Chastain led the way offensively as well, going 3 for 4 at the plate with three singles. Jordan Spears also had multiple hits with two singles, while Eller’s double was the only extra-base hit for Sylvan Hills in the game.
The Bruins played Morrilton in the second round of the four-team tournament last night after Leader deadlines. Look for complete details of the rest of the tournament in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.