Tuesday, June 19, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Express outlasts Gwatney

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville blew an opportunity to make it to bracket play on the final day of the Sheridan Wood Bat Classic by losing 10-3 to Little Rock-Continental Express on Saturday.

After beating Stuttgart 12-4 and Hot Springs Village 15-0, the Gwatney Chevrolet senior team had only to beat a Continental squad that had already lost badly to Sheridan and barely escaped with an 8-6 win over Stuttgart.

But Express wasn’t the same team on Saturday, and neither was Jacksonville. Little Rock played solid defense while Jacksonville ended the game with six errors.

Gwatney starting pitcher James McCranie left the game with one out in the fourth trailing 2-0 after giving up five hits. But the relief pitching had trouble finding the strike zone while the defense fell apart.

Jacob Abrahamson took the mound and got two-straight outs to finish the fourth inning, but left the first four batters on base in the fifth. He hit Seth Campbell to start the inning then walked Ian Mayfield. Abrahamson struck out cleanup hitter Jacob Green, but Green reached base on a third-strike passed ball. With the bases loaded, Campbell scored on a wild pitch and Abrahamson balked in Mayfield.

Joseph Harris walked to put runners on the corners. Abrahamson then got a double-play ground ball to the left side of shortstop, but second baseman Derek St. Clair couldn’t handle the throw from Jesse Harbin and both base runners scored on the error.

That put Express up 7-0, and Jacksonville never seriously threatened.

Singles by Alex Tucker and Harbin drove in a run apiece in the bottom of the fifth. Tucker’s shot scored Kenny Cummings, who had walked, and Harbin drove in James Tucker, who was hit by a pitch.

Jared Wilson took the mound for the last two innings, and though Express scored three more runs, none were earned. Wilson gave up just two hits, but he walked three and hit another while the defense committed five errors while he was on the mound.