Sylvan Hills’ quest for yet another conference championship took a pretty big hit last week when the Bears dropped a double-header at Jacksonville to a very strong Red Devil team.
The Bears dropped the opening game 7-1, then lost the second game 2-1.
The first game saw a battle of aces in Sylvan Hills’ Hunter Heslep and Jacksonville’s Derek St. Clair. Neither starter appeared to have their best stuff, as Heslep didn’t have the normal movement on his ball, while St. Clair’s location was off early on.
Jacksonville scored what turned out to be all they needed with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning in the opening game.
Sylvan Hills came back to cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the second inning with a pair of hits and walks, but couldn’t take better advantage of a bases loaded situation.
Jacksonville added four more runs in the bottom of the second inning, prompting Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton to bring in lefty Marcus Long. Long stifled the Red Devil bats for most of the rest of the game, allowing just one run while scattering seven hits over five and two-thirds innings pitched. St. Clair settled into a better groove after getting out of his jam, keeping the Bears off of the base paths for much of the rest of the game.
The second game was a closer contest for the Bears, but just as frustrating, as Sylvan Hills missed on another bases loaded opportunity.
Connor Poteet got the start on the bump for the Bears and pitched a very solid game, going the full seven innings and fanning five while giving up four hits and three walks.
Jacksonville scored first in the top of the third inning when Blake Perry reached on an error, moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, then scored when Courtland McDonald hit a two-out, 0-2 pitch to right to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.
Sylvan Hills came right back to tie the game in the fourth inning when Jacob White led off the inning with a single, then stole second to move into scoring position. A groundout by Charlie Roberts moved White to third, while Heslep scored him with another grounder.
Sylvan Hills looked like they might get out of the fifth inning unscathed, but Jacksonville managed to push across the eventual winning run. Perry singled, and then tried to score on a double to the wall. Brandon Baioni gunned him down at the plate for the second out. The next batter batter, McDonald, would again get a hit on an 0-2 pitch to drive in a run and set the final margin at 2-1.
Sylvan Hills loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning, but left them loaded after a pair of strikeouts and a flyout.
The Bears were back on the field Tuesday night with a pair of easy blowout wins over West Helena, 16-1 and 16-0.