Monday, June 14, 2010

SPORTS >> Gwatney cashes in on walks, miscues

IN SHORT: Jacksonville takes junior American Legion victory
as Sylvan Hills pitchers falter.

By Jason King
Leader sportswriter

It wasn’t the two second-inning hits by Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet that did the damage in a 15-5, junior American Legion victory Tuesday.

It was the seven walks given up by three Sylvan Hills pitchers and three untimely passed balls, led to eight runs Jacksonville runs on the way to a rout of Sylvan Hills at Kevin McReynolds Field.

D’Vone McClure hit a three-run home run in the top of the third inning, and Jacksonville scored four runs against the depleted Sylvan Hills staff in the top of the fifth to win by the run rule.

Bruins starter J.D. Miller looked strong in the first inning, but Trey Sims relieved him two batters into the second after Miller gave up back-to-back walks. Sims also struggled, giving up a single to Zach Traylor and three more walks before leaving the mound for Forrest Harrison.

Harrison issued a fourth-straight walk before finally getting McClure to pop up to center. Gwatney had already scored four runs at that point — two on passed balls, one on Traylor’s RBI grounder to right field and another on a bases-loaded walk
Jesse Harbin stretched Gwatney’s lead with a two-RBI single to left field that scored Brandon Whitmore and Troy Allen to give Jacksonville a 6-1 lead. Harbin added the final run of the inning when he scored on a fielder’s choice at first.

Harrison walked Brandon Russell to lead off the top of the third and hit Allen before McClure cleared the left field wall with his home run to make it 9-3.

Sylvan Hills took advantage of some erratic pitching and defense early when Sims was hit by a pitch to lead off the first and later scored on a passed ball. Aaron Sarna walked to open the second and advanced around the bases and scored on three straight passed balls by Gwatney.

Dalton Freeling had a similar trip when he was hit by a pitch and rounded the bases on passed balls to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 8-3.

McClure got the runs back for Gwatney with his homer in the third, and Jacksonville renewed its assault in the top of the fifth beginning with a walk to Troy Allen.

Kenny Cummings singled to advance Troy Allen and Austin Allen drove him in with a single to left. Chris McClendon walked and Cummings and Austin Allen scored on an error at third on Alex Tucker’s grounder.

McClendon added Jacksonville’s final run on a passed ball.

Sylvan Hills needed a 12-run miracle to tie in the bottom of the fifth as the game neared its two-hour time limit, but got only two. Greg Atchinson was hit by a pitch and later scored on an error at second, while Robert Brock reached on an error at first and scored on another error at first to set the final margin.

Tucker got the victory for Jacksonville after he relieved McClure in the bottom of the second with Sylvan Hills holding a 1-0 lead.

McClure hit four batters through 1 2/3 innings, but Tucker allowed only two hits the rest of the way.

Jacksonville had four errors, three in the bottom of the fifth.

Sylvan Hills pitchers walked 12 and gave up six hits. Though the Bruins had only one error, they had six passed balls.