Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SPORTS >> Jacksonville gets revenge

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet AAA American Legion team put it all together Monday night in an 8-0 mercy killing of a very tough North Little Rock Colts squad.

Jesse Harbin pitched a gem on the mound, the defense made some great plays behind him and the offense flexed its muscles with a pair of homers.

“That was a real big win for us,” said Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham. “We hit the baseball better tonight and that was really the key for us.”

The win still wasn’t enough to get the Chevy Boys back into first place because of an 8-0 loss to Russellville on Saturday. Jacksonville had just beaten Russellville 13-0 earlier in the week before dropping the mercy-rule loss at home this weekend.

“Just one of those games,” Hickingbotham said. “We just couldn’t hit the ball for some reason.

The Chevy Boys got all the runs they needed Monday with one swing in the bottom of the first inning.Kenny Cummings came up with one out and launched a no-doubter over the wall in left center for a solo homer. The outfielders didn’t bother taking more than a step toward the ball as it cleared everything quickly and easily.

Gwatney’s starting pitcher Harbin had set the tone in the top of the first for the way he would pitch the whole game.

Harbin worked quickly and fanned the side around a seeing-eye single.

Harbin finished with a complete six innings pitched, giving up just two hits while striking out eight and walking two. Harbin didn’t have to worry about pitching the seventh when Jacksonville scored in the bottom of the sixth to win by the eight-after-five rule.

“Jesse was just outstanding tonight and he’s been that way almost every time out there,” Hickingbotham said. “He got in a good rhythm hitting his spots. He’s been doing that all season. He’s a good one.”

Jacksonville broke the game open in the third inning when the Colts’ pitcher couldn’t find the plate and got knocked around when he did.

The inning looked like a disaster to start with after Chris McClendon was hit by a pitch to lead off the third. The top of the order, Jacob Abrahamson and Cummings, both had come backers to the pitcher. The first got McClendon to second, but Cummings’ hit was too hard and McClendon was thrown out at third for the second out.

That’s when things started getting interesting.

Patrick Castleberry and Harbin both walked, setting up Colt Harmon for a two-run single. Nick Rodriguez walked, followed by back-to-back singles from Brown and Alex Tucker, as Jacksonville took a 6-0 lead.

Castleberry came back up in the fourth inning with a solo homer to push Gwatney’s lead to 7-0.
Cummings led the way on offense, going 2 for 3 with a single, homer, walk and three runs. Harmon had a pair of singles and three RBIs in the win.

The Gwatney Chevrolet junior American Legion team has had some ups and downs this season, but that is to be expected with a team using several players fresh out of the 8th grade.

Monday night was one of the big ups of the year, with a come-from-behind, 9-5 win over the Colts.
A few singles sprinkled with an error each of the first three innings had the junior Chevy Boys down 5-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. That score could have been worse, but Gwatney was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth thanks to an inning-ending double play.

Jacksonville turned it around in the fourth with the two batters leading off the inning being hit by a pitch, followed by a walk to Greg Jones to load the bases.

A pair of strikeouts made it look like the Colts might get out of the inning, but a walk to Derek St. Claire forced in Jacksonville’s first run of the evening.

Back at the top of the order, Troy Allen roped a double that cleared the bases and cut North Little Rock’s lead to 5-4. Alex Broadwell tied the game with an RBI single, followed by what turned out to be the game-winning RBI on a triple by Austin Allen.

Josh Cook came in to pitch relief and slammed the door in the top of the fifth, allowing Jacksonville to bat until time was called in the bottom of the inning. Another walk to begin the inning was followed by singles from Jones and Tyler Mogish.

All three would score in the inning after a pair of walks and an RBI single by St. Claire to set the final margin at 9-5.

Broadwell led Jacksonville with two singles, while Troy Allen did the damage with four RBIs in the contest.