Friday, June 25, 2010

SPORTS>>Jacksonville overcomes Sylvan Hills junior team

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet overtook Sylvan Hills early and kept going until time ran out in a 9-4 junior American Legion victory at Dupree Park on Thursday.

Gwatney spotted the Bruins two runs in the first, then scored three in the bottom of the inning and led until the two-hour time limit ended the game in the Jacksonville the sixth.

Jacksonville starter D’Vone McClure, who has had only a handful of starts, went the distance, striking out three, walking two and getting charged with three earned runs. His best inning was his last, as he struck out his final two hitters after giving up a one-out walk.

“He threw strikes and he worked ahead in the count quite a bit, that really helped him,’ Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “He probably used a few too many breaking pitches but other than that he did a good job. That’s probably the second or third time he’s been on the mound.”

McClure also helped himself with two runs and an RBI single. Sylvan Hills starter Lance Hunter homered to help his cause but didn’t survive the second and was charged with the loss after giving up five runs.

Xavier Brown, who has played third and been a solid starter in increased playing time because of injuries, was 3 for 3 with two runs and two RBI. Austin Allen was 2 for 4 with a triple, an infield hit and a run; No. 9 hitter Cole Bredenberg was 3 for 3 with two runs and an RBI and Troy Allen had a single and two RBI. The game was called because of time just after Bredenberg beat out a grounder to second for a hit.

“We’ve been able to have a few guys step up,” Hickingbotham said. “What they’ve been doing is they’ve been playing good defense and they’ve been getting up there and trying their best to battle at the plate.”

McClure hit Greg Atchison to open the game and Atchison later scored on Dalton Freeling’s sacrifice fly. Hunter made it 2-0 when he drove a McClure fastball over the left-field fence for a home run.

But Gwatney struck back with a three-run first as McClure led off with a walk and quickly took second on a throwing error by Hunter on a pickoff attempt, then Kenny Cummings reached on Hunter’s wild pitch on strike three. Brown singled in one run and Troy Allen and Alex Tucker drove in one each with groundouts.

After two hits and two hit batters in the Gwatney second, the Bruins relieved Hunter with shortstop Connor Eller, and Jacksonville scored two more runs on a bases-loaded walk to Brown and Chris McClendon’s single to left.

The Bruins got a run back on Sammy Pittman’s RBI single in the third, but Gwatney continued to peck away in the bottom of the inning as it loaded the bases and got RBI singles from Bredenberg and McClure to make it 7-3.

Freeling led off with a double in the Sylvan Hills fifth and scored on Eller’s one-out single to cut it to 7-4, but the Bruins stranded Eller and Pittman, who doubled over McClendon’s head in left, when Blake Hill and Aaron Sarna both grounded out.

But again, Gwatney tweaked the lead, this time loading the bases with two out in the bottom of the inning and scoring when Bredenberg came in on Eller’s wild pitch and making it 9-4 when Troy Allen roped an RBI single to center.

Jacksonville has been without high school stars Jacob Abrahamson, Jesse Harbin and Patrick Castleberry because of injuries.

“Right now we’re kind of struggling,” Hickingbotham said. “We’ve just been struggling and trying to go. They’re coming back a little bit.”