Watson Chapel’s Josh Dardenne led off the first inning with a home run against Sylvan Hills, and the rest of the day didn’t get much better for the Bears in a 10-3 loss in the opening round of the Class 5A State Tournament.
Uncharacteristic walks plagued the Bears and errors against the Wildcats, while not being able get in a groove with the bats either.
"We made a lot of mistakes," said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. "Bottom line is it was not our day."
Watson Chapel’s hitters were patient on a day where the strike zone was very tight. That led to several walks, and when the Bears’ pitchers came in the middle of the zone, the Wildcat batters took advantage and hit the ball hard. Sylvan Hills also committed four errors in the game.
Meanwhile, Sylvan Hills’ batters swung at several first pitches against Watson Chapel’s tall lefty Justin Pierce. Pierce showed a lot of movement on his fastball tailing away from the right-handed batters and inducing grounders and pop ups.
Sylvan Hills broke through in the fourth inning with three runs, but were down 10-0 by that point. Mackenzie Seats led off the inning with a walk, and then scored when Blake Maddox crushed a double to left.
Marcus Long got the start on the mound, but ran into trouble early. Maddox came in to pitch relief, but couldn’t get a handle on the strike zone or the Chapel batters either. Connor Poteet finished the game and allowed just one run over the final four innings of work.
"We wanted it bad and I’m still proud of this team and especially these seniors," said Tipton. "This group of seniors graduated with a 4.1 GPA and that tells you what kind of young men they are."