Friday, July 09, 2010

SPORTS>>Injury mars game

Leader sportswriter

It was a terrifying end to a humdrum season.

Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet started its American Legion Area 3 junior tournament game against Sylvan Hills just after 5:30 p.m. at Burns Park on Tuesday, but there was no rest for Gwatney until Zach Traylor’s release from Arkansas Children’s Hospital sometime around 3 a.m. the next morning.

Sylvan Hills won 7-1 after Jacksonville, with only 10 players on its roster, was forced to forfeit when Traylor sustained a frightening facial injury that left the Chevy Boys a man short.

Traylor moved to third base from his starting position in center field during a pitching change in the top of the fourth inning.

His first chance came on a short hopper by Sylvan Hills leadoff batter Greg Atchinson in the top of the fifth, and as Traylor got into position, the ball took a violent side hop and smashed into his left cheekbone.

“That’s the first one I’ve had like that,” Gwatney coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “I mean, I’ve had other injuries, there’s been broken noses before when someone got hit with a hit ball or a thrown ball. But that one was basically in the neighborhood of one or two others.”

Traylor stood dazed for a moment before collapsing to the ground, and paramedics were immediately called to the field. Sylvan Hills coach Billy Sims was stationed at the third-base line and came immediately to Traylor’s aid, and tournament officials brought out ice for the severe swelling under Traylor’s left eye.

Children’s Hospital doctors were concerned about Traylor’s eye movement and possible fractures to his cheekbone, but Hickingbotham said Traylor began moving his eye before his release. Hickingbotham said he believed more tests for fractures will be run after some of the swelling subsides.

“I was concerned that something was possibly wrong with his neck the way it popped back,” Hickingbotham said. “It kind of knocked him groggy, but I guess some of the X-rays and other things they did revealed that it wasn’t quite as bad as we originally thought.”

It was Gwatney’s second loss of the round-robin tournament, which ended the Chevy Boys’ season short of a state-tournament berth. Sylvan Hills advanced to play Cabot Centennial Bank on Wednesday, and the Bruins fell to Cabot for a second time in the tourney to end their year.

The Bruins were in command before Traylor’s accident with a 7-1 lead heading into the fifth inning.

They took a 5-0 lead in the top of the second when Gwatney starter Alex Tucker gave up a leadoff walk to Conner Eller and three straight singles.

Blake Hill drove in the first run with a single to right, followed by a sacrifice fly to center by J.D. Miller.

Atchinson followed with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Sammy Pittman, and Lance Hunter walked to load the bases again for the Bruins.

Tucker hit cleanup man Forrest Harrison to score Dalton Freeling and make it 5-0.

Harrison drove in the next run for Sylvan Hills in the top of the fourth when he doubled to left to score Freeling. Harrison later scored on a passed ball.

Jacksonville’s only run came in the bottom of the third when No. 9 hitter Brandon Whitmore walked and scored on an RBI single to left by Traylor.

Aaron Sarna was 2 for 2 with a double for Sylvan Hills while Harrison had a double and two RBI.