Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SPORTS >> Bruins falter in state tournament

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

A season that began slowly before gathering momentum midway through ended with a fairly loud thud at the American Legion junior state tournament last weekend.

The Sylvan Hills Optimist Club Bruins lost both games at the Sheridan Sports Complex by a combined 25-1, falling 14-0 to Sheridan in the opening round, then getting eliminated 11-1 by Bryant on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins finish the season 20-8.

The table was set early on Friday night, when Sheridan’s Kurt Stamper belted a first-inning grand slam for a quick 4-0 lead.

The Bruins gave themselves only one opportunity to get back into the contest when they loaded the bases in the second but came up empty.

Sylvan Hills starter Justin Cook gave up a single and a walk to open the game, but looked as though he might escape after a pair of strikeouts. Tyler Lathan, though, battled for a walk and Stamper lined a 2-2 pitch over the fence in left for a 4-0 Sheridan lead.

The Bruins collected one of their two hits in the game when Austin Spears beat out a high bouncer past the mound to open the second. Sheridan hurler Tyler Lathan hit Michael Lock with one out and James Pepin with two outs to load the bases. But Will Carter hit a bouncer to first for an unassisted out and the Bruins managed only two more base runners the rest of the way.

Cook fooled a lot of Sheridan hitters with his curve ball on his way to seven strikeouts. But the ones that weren’t fooled hit him pretty hard. A typical inning was the third, when Cook struck out two of the first four he faced, but hit a batter and gave up a single to the other two. Another single followed to make it 5-0.

In the fourth, two singles and an error scored two more runs. Then, following his sixth and seventh strikeouts to open the fifth, Cook surrendered back-to-back doubles by Nick Ware and Landon Moore. Moore had four of Sheridan’s 11 hits.

With a possibility of as many as six games between Friday and Tuesday, Sylvan Hills coach Jim Fink left Cook on the mound through the fifth inning. Sheridan struck for six more in the sixth on three hits, six walks and a sacrifice fly.

Pinch hitter Zach Russenberger picked up Sylvan Hills’ only other hit when he grounded a single up the middle with two outs in the final inning.

Sheridan was slated to take on Texarkana yesterday in the state championship.