SPORTS>> Loss to North Little Rock brings junior Bruins’ season to a close
The ups and downs Sylvan Hills experienced during its stint in the zone tournament at Burns Park through the weekend is a good representation of the junior Legion Bruins’ entire season. They played through the summer with no true home field, and had to surrender many of their older players due to the formation of a second senior squad just weeks into the season.
A first-round loss to Maumelle on Thursday put the Optimist Bruins in the loser’s bracket, and a Friday matchup with Mayflower Big Star. The Bruins kept themselves alive one more day with a big 13-1 win over the Big Star team, moving them into Saturday play against North Little Rock.
That’s where it all came to an end. The Colts rallied from an early 1-0 Sylvan Hills lead for a 9-5 win, mostly on the heels of a tremendous second inning. North Little Rock scored six runs in the bottom of the second, and held off a Bruins’ rally in the top of the fourth inning to stay alive after being bumped into the loser’s bracket by Jacksonville on Friday.
The Bruins’ win over Mayflower was close through three innings, but Sylvan Hills extended an early 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning with five runs, and went through its entire lineup in the top of the sixth for seven more.
Sylvan Hills put together five straight hits during the sixth, with a leadoffdouble by Corey Arnold that led to seven straight runs. Blake Rasdon hit him in with a double to left field, and advanced on a single from Austin Spears.
Justin Cook singled in Rasden, and Greg Atkinson loaded the bases with another single.
That loaded the bases for Sylvan Hills with no outs, and a walk to Cain Cormier scored Spears to make it 9-0. Jake Dillon continued the spree with a single to right that drove in Cook to put the Bruins in position to win early on the run-rule.
Mayflower reliever Shane Fowler finally retired two batters at that point, but Rasdon slipped by on an infield error during his second turn of the frame, which allowed Cormier and Dillon in for the final two SH scores.
Fowler made sure Big Star did not go scoreless for the tourney after Mayflower took a 5-0 loss to top seed Cabot on opening day Thursday with a RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to drive in the leadoff batter.
The Bruins took an early 1-0 lead in Saturday’s matchup with North Little Rock, but the Colts took over in the bottom of the second inning with six runs on five hits, three walks and one error.
Sylvan Hills appeared to be on the way to a big rally in the top of the fourth inning, loading the bases with no outs. That all changed when Mike Maddox hit into a double play — first base to home to third base. Justin Cook did manage one run for the Bruins when he led off the inning with a walk, and scored on a fielder’s choice bunt by Cain Cormier. But that still left them trailing 6-2.
The Colts scored a run in the bottom of the fourth, two runs in the fifth, and held off another SH rally in the top of the sixth.
The Bruins did benefit from a pair of bases-loaded walks, resulting in scores for Chris Nosal and Dillon to make it 9-4.
Sylvan Hills had one final shot in the top of the fifth, but a passed-ball score for Bruins reliever Cameron Graves set the final margin after Graves led off the inning with a single.
Sylvan Hills coach Jim Fink said that despite a turbulent season, his squad fought hard through the summer.
“That double play was the difference in the game for us,” Fink said. “We had a couple of older kids move up that we could have used, especially here. The way things went this weekend is kind of how our whole season played out.”