Sylvan Hills will play for the Class 5A state championship game this Friday in thanks to Chaz Poppy.
Poppy, a junior, went to the plate against Greenbrier in last Saturday’s semifinals at Harrison, with one out on the board in the fifth inning.
Already up, 7-2 against the Panthers, Poppy’s at-bat was with the bases loaded, and a swing later, he had hit a grand slam, that Sylvan Hills the 11-2 lead and they hung on to win the game 11-8.
Sylvan Hills, now 24-12 on the season, will face Watson Chapel, a team that beat Valley View to advance to the finals. The Wildcats are 23-7 on the year.
The game will be at Baum Stadium at the University of Arkansas and first pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
With graduation being at 9 a.m. on Saturday, it is going to be a big weekend for the team’s seniors, some nine strong, and includes catcher Nick Fakouri, who has signed to play college baseball at the University of Central Arkansas.
This is Sylvan Hills’s second trip to the state championship game in three years and the Bears last won the title in 2008. The Bears have made the semifinals three of the last four years as well.
It has been a remarkable run for Sylvan Hills as they have made the state tournament every year since 1992, a decade before this current crop of seniors was born.