Leader Blues

Friday, March 21, 2008

SPORTS >>Bears take 2 two from Jonesboro

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills started its 6A-East Conference campaign strong on Thursday at Kevin McReynolds Field, sweeping league rival Jonesboro, 10-0 and 5-4.

Hillside run-ruled the Golden Hurricane in the opener behind a home run and five RBI by D.J. Baxendale, but had to hold off a strong Jonesboro rally in the bottom of the seventh inning of the nightcap.

“The second game was a completely different ballgame altogether,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “It was a game of blown opportunities. It’s good anytime you can get two wins in conference, but it was touch and go there for a while.”

The Hurricane entered the seventh inning of game two trailing 5-3, and quickly put their first batters on with singles. A passed ball made it 5-4, but Ole Miss signee Hunter Miller made the play of the game to preserve the win when he threw out the potential game-tying run trying to score from second on a base hit.

The game ended on a grounder to short as the Bears improved to 8-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference.

The Bears took the early lead with a run in the top of the first inning, but the Hurricane came back with a pair of runs in the bottom half.

Sylvan Hills answered with two runsin the third and another in the fourth that gave them a 4-2 lead.

Sylvan Hills reliever Jake Chambers took to the mound for the Bears in the seventh inning. Hunter Miller started and got the win before giving way to Chris Daulton in the fifth inning.

The opener was much easier for the Bears. They started off with four runs in the bottom of the first inning, and added another in the third before putting it out of reach in the fifth inning with five more.

D.J. Baxendale dominated for Sylvan Hills. The former Abundant Life standout hurler gave up only one hit through five innings while striking out eight batters. Offensively, he went 3-of-3 with five RBI, including a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth following singles by Clint Thornton and Mark Turpin.

Nathan Eller had two hits in the opener, while Thornton added two in the nightcap.

Miller took the win in game two after pitching the first four innings.

The addition of former AL players Chambers and Baxendale gives the Bears even more depth than in recent years, and Tipton says he plans on utilizing it.

“D.J. pitched a really good game for us,” Tipton said. “He’s had some struggles, to be honest, but he really come through for us (Thursday.) Chambers has been playing quite a bit of outfield for us, and has helped us out a lot.”

The third former Owl, Justin Treece, has not seen action yet this year due to a broken hand.

“We need to swing the bat better overall as a team, “ Tipton said. “That’s the main thing holding us back right now. Clint Thornton is the one that’s really swinging the bat for us right now. The last three games, he has hit really well.”

The Bears will travel to Mountain Home on Tuesday for another East doubleheader against the Bombers.