Wednesday, June 08, 2011

SPORTS>>Jacksonville wins pool, gets runner up

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville junior American Legion team had a successful weekend hosting its own Gwatney Invitational. The Chevy Boys won its pool outright with wins Friday and Saturday, but ultimately fell 4-1 to Sylvan Hills in the championship game.

The young Gwatney team didn’t hit the ball particularly well, but still managed a tournament-high 20 runs in the three-game event, including 19 in its two pool games.

It’s best offensive game was the first one. Jacksonville got 11 base hits in an 11-4 victory over Rosebud on Friday.

The first five batters in the Gwatney lineup combined to go 11 of 15 at the plate. Alex Broadwell led the way with a 3-3 performance including a double. Austin Allen went 2 for 3 and had an RBI triple.

Derek St. Clair got the win on the mound.

In game two on Saturday, Gwatney got just five hits, but scored eight runs with patience at the plate, as well as opponent miscues in an 8-2 win over Benton’s Everett Sports Shop.

The big inning in that one was the third. Already holding a 2-0 lead, Gwatney got six runs off three hits, three walks and two hit batters to take a commanding lead.

Two Benton errors put two Jacksonville runners on base to start the inning. Tyler Mogish and Andrew Tucker then drew walks to drive in a run. Logan Kelusa and St. Clair followed that up with back-to-back RBI singles. Troy Allen was hit by a pitch and James Tucker got an RBI base hit to drive in the fifth run of the frame. A sacrifice fly by Trevor Ransom capped the scoring in the inning.

James Tucker started on the mound and picked up the win.

Broadwell did a good job in the title game of keeping the ball out of play. He gave up just four hits, but walked seven, taking the loss against Sylvan Hills.

After a good outing at the plate in Friday’s game, and a decent outing Saturday, the Jacksonville bats were very quiet in the championship game.

“We hadn’t hit the ball well, but we’ve gone up there and taken what the pitchers are giving us,” Jacksonville coach David St. Clair said. “If he wants to plunk us with one, we’ll take that. If he wants to throw us four balls, we’ll take it. We’ve been pretty patient and been able to get base runners. You need that until the hitting comes along.”

With a roster of players largely unfamiliar with each other, continued improvement is the theme as Jacksonville moves forward.

“They’re young and they’re getting better,” St. Clair said. “They’re coming together as a team. They hadn’t played much together. They’re scattered around from different schools, just now getting to know each other. We’re still piecing it together with our defense, figuring out who’s going to contribute where, but we’re getting there.”

Jacksonville played Cabot at home last night in a doubleheader with the senior team. They will join Sylvan Hills on the field again Thursday, also at Dupree Park.

This time it will count as on the zone record and impact seedings for postseason play.