Friday, June 22, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney pulls away late

Leader sportswriter

A big fourth inning lifted Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet to an 11-2 blowout victory over North Little Rock at Dupree Park on Thursday. The Chevy Boys (20-3) scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and added two more for good measure in the fifth inning just as time was expiring in the American Legion junior zone matchup.

Blake Perry took the win on the mound for Gwatney, going the distance in five innings while giving up two hits and striking out two batters.

“We played pretty good,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “We didn’t hit the ball very well, but they began to make some mistakes on the field. They walked quite a few, and that kind of gave us a little bit of a chance to get some runs. After he changed pitchers, then they began to settle down a little. Those kids are playing pretty good.”

The Colts quickly retired the first two Jacksonville batters to start the bottom of the fourth, but a return to the top of the order for Gwatney marked disaster for pitcher Landon Hearnos. Hearnos walked Troy Allen and struck out Derek St. Clair, but a passed ball on the final strike allowed Clair to reach first and advance Allen. Justin Abbott then walked to load the bases.

Cleanup hitter Austin Allen drove in the first run with a single chopper over third base to keep the bases loaded, and a walk for Greg Jones scored St. Clair to give Jacksonville a 4-2 lead. Abbott scored on another passed ball to increase the margin to 5-2.

Hearnos gave up his fourth walk of the inning to Ryan Mallison to load the bases all over again, and James Tucker drove in two of those runners with a two-RBI single to right field. D.J. Scott popped up to center on his first trip to the plate to start the turn, but he was more successful on his second trip with a two-RBI single to right field.

Troy Allen put the first run up on the board for Jacksonville in the bottom of the first inning when he walked and eventually scored when his brother Austin Allen hit a line drive to second base. NLR attempted to catch Justin Abbott off the bag at first, but the throw was mishandled, allowing Abbott to second and Troy Allen home to tie the game at 1-1.

Abbott put the Chevy Boys up 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning when he singled to right field and scored on an infield error when Jones hit the ball to second base. The Colts tied the game again in the top of the fourth inning when Darrick Flowers hit a solo home run over the right field wall.

Troy Allen reached first after getting hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Abbott reached when he hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Perry at third. Austin Allen then put an exclamation point on the game with a two-RBI triple to right. Tucker was 2 for 3 with two RBI while Austin Allen was 2 for 4 with a triple and four RBI.