Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

SPORTS >>Bears dominate

Leader sports editor

He went 4 for 5 at the plate, scored three runs and drove in two others. He also pitched four innings of one-hit ball, struck out six and picked up the win in relief.

Not bad for a kid who lists baseball as his second sport.

Hunter Miller, the Ole Miss football signee, was all that on Friday afternoon in Sylvan Hills’ 12-5 win over Conway in a round-robin tournament at Conway High School.

Miller went on to belt home runs in each of Saturday’s games as the Bears added two more wins over the weekend, beating Fort Smith Southside in a slugfest, 17-13, and Conway again, 13-2.

“Our bats started off really slow this season,” said Bears head coach Denny Tipton. “But the last seven games, we’re really swinging it well.”

As in 92 runs over that span, while limiting opponents to just 28. Sylvan Hills, which walloped Mountain Home 25-3 and 10-0 last Tuesday, is now 13-4 overall. All four of those losses are by single runs.

Sylvan Hills broke open a close game on Friday by scoring seven runs in the top of the seventh inning after rallying from deficits of 3-1 and 5-3 to finally tie the game when D.J. Baxendale came across on a throwing error after Nathan Eller’s bunt single.

Jordan Spears started for Sylvan Hills, but never could locate the plate. He lasted only one-third of an inning, walking five and giving up an RBI-double.

Jake Chambers came on in relief and kept Sylvan Hills in it by getting a strikeout and a fly out with the bases loaded as the Wampus Cats took a 3-1 lead after one. The Bears had scored in the top half on Miller’s two-out triple and a wild pitch.

The Bears also scored with two outs in the second when Clint Thornton ripped a two-run double to the gap in right center after Blake Evans had singled and Chambers had reached on an error.

But Conway reclaimed the lead in the second with two runs on a hit, a walk and the Bears’ only error of the game.

Leadoff singles by Miller and Baxendale in the third resulted in a run when Tyler Van Schuyck’s fielder’s choice brought home Miller to make it 5-4.

Chambers then pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth, getting consecutive fly outs to Miller in center. B.J.

Lowe’s third out appeared to be heading for the gap in right, but the speedy Miller was able to chase it down to retire the side.

Sylvan Hills tied it in the fifth. Baxendale and Van Schuyck received leadoff walks. Eller laiddown a perfect bunt for a single and Conway pitcher James Murphy’s wild throw on the play evened the score when Baxendale scored from second.

The Bears had a great opportunity to take control with two on and nobody out, but Murphy struck out the next three.

Miller came on in the fourth, issuing a leadoff walk to Zach Cates. But Sylvan Hills catcher J.T. Long caught Cates trying to steal, and Miller allowed only two more base runners the rest of the way — a single and a walk with two outs in the sixth. But he escaped that jam with a strikeout, as the two teams went into the final inning tied at 5.

Van Schyock opened Sylvan Hills’ 7-run, game-winning rally in the seventh with a double. After Ellers walked and Erick McKinney was plunked with a pitch, Evans lined a double past the bag at third to score two. Pinch hitter Chris Perez singled in another run, and Miller made it 11-5 with his fourth.

Miller than pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, fanning the last two Conway batters.

Sylvan Hills jumped out to a 16-6 lead against Southside on Saturday, then held off a late rally. The Bears pounded out 17 more hits, including three by Baxendale and Thornton. Miller added two hits and four RBI, including a home run. Chambers, Perez, Spears and Turpin also chipped in two hits apiece.

Eller took the win in the second contest with Conway. Turpin went 4 for 4, while Baxendale was 3 for 3. Miller picked up another home run and two more hits, and Long added two base knocks, as well.

The Bears hosted West Memphis in a game played yesterday after Leader deadlines.