Panthers top Sylvan Hills in first round

BENTON — It didn’t take long for Benton’s Joseph Henry to prove he belong in the line up after missing the first few games of the season. In fact, it just took one at bat.

With a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the first, Henry hit a home run to the opposite field to give Benton a 2-0 lead early in the game.

“Joseph has a lot of power and we are glad to have him back in the line up,” coach Mark Balisterri said. “He is definitely going to be a big plus for this team.”

The Panthers would defeat Sylvan Hills 13-3 in four innings the first round of the 2011 Central Arkansas Invitational at Benton High School on Thursday.

“I hope [Henry] continues to do well and be a quality part of this team,” Balisterri said.

Benton scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to invoke the mercy rule.

Henry and catcher Stuart Levy led off the inning with back-to-back walks. After Boone Cox ran for Levy, the two would advance to second and third on a passed ball.

Carson Holloway hit a ball towards second base but it went through the legs of Sylvan Hills’ second baseman which allowed Henry to score. After a ground ball out, Taylor Schmidt hit a triple to score two more runs. Garrison Roy would be hit by a pitch and a walk to Levon Steward would load the bases.

A walk to Brooks Balisterri would bring home another run and a two-run single by Ashton Roberts would give Benton the 10-run lead.

“We hit the ball well today,” Balisterri said. “I was proud of the way he hit, especially after we had been off for five or six days.

“We had a good practice yesterday afternoon. They came back today and they got focused. That’s what I told them before today, you better be focused, because everybody is here to beat you.”

Benton score three runs in the third inning thanks to a RBI single by Roy and a fielder’s choice error which allowed two runs to score.

“They went out there and took care of business,” Balisterri said.

The Panthers scored a run in the second inning after Steward hit a triple with one out. He later scored on a wild pitch to give Benton a 4-2 lead.

Pitcher Colton Lee threw four innings, allowed three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

“It was good for him,” Balisterri said. “He struggled a little bit because he didn’t have his stuff today.”

Sylvan Hills scored a run in the first, the second and the third.
With one out in the second inning, Sylvan Hills loaded the bases with three consecutive singles. A walk would force in a run but a pop up to the catcher and a strikeout would get Lee out of the inning.

“I was proud of he way he battled the way through his struggles,” Balisterri said. “Sometimes to be a good pitcher, you have to learn how to pitch when you don’t have all your stuff. I was proud of the way he competed out there.”

Balisterri said he pitched Lee on Thursday so he would have some rest before Tuesday’s conference game against Texarkana.

Brooks Balisterri was 1-1 with three walks, a RBI and a run scored. Roberts was 1 for 3 with two RBIs and a strikeout. Henry was 1 for 3 with a home run, two RBIs, a walk and two runs scored.

Levy did not have an official at-bat but he did walk twice and was hit by a pitch. Cox, who ran for Levy, scored three times. Holloway was 1 for 3 with a double, a RBI and a run scored.

Schmidt was 1 for 3 with a triple and two RBIs. Roy had a single with a RBI, was hit by a pitch and stole a base. Steward was 2 for 2 with a triple, a walk and a run scored.

Benton plays today against Shiloh Christian at 11 a.m. and will play again at 4 p.m. at Benton High School.