Friday, June 08, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Seven straight for Gwatney Jrs.

Leader sportswriter

For the second time in as many games, the Jacksonville junior American Legion team rallied from a big early deficit to get a win in zone competition. On Tuesday Gwatney fell behind 4-0 at Sylvan Hills before rallying for a 5-4 win. On Thursday at home, it had to overcome a 5-0 deficit to defeat Cabot 10-6.

It was the seventh-consecutive win for Jacksonville since going 1-2 at the North Little Rock Memorial Day tournament.

Centennial Bank (6-6) dominated the first inning of Thursday’s game at Dupree Park, building a 5-0 lead before Gwatney (8-2) scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning and added six more in the third to completely shift momentum. James Tucker took the win on the mound for Jacksonville, replacing starter Derek St. Clair in the top of the second inning. Tucker gave up a hit that allowed Cabot’s final run to score in the second, and gave up a late single in the top of the fourth.

Otherwise Tucker kept the Centennial Bank bats in check after their strong showing at the plate in the first that included a three-run home run by Brandon Jones.

Justin Abbott started the pivotal bottom of the third inning with a single for Jacksonville and advanced on a walk for Greg Jones. Kaleb Reeves then scored Abbott with a single to centerfield, and Jones came home on a passed ball to tie the game at 6-6. Tucker loaded the bases with an infield single and Allen sent in the go-ahead run with a shot placed perfectly between third and shortstop that was good for a single, allowing Reeves to come home to make it 7-6.

Derek St. Clair kept it going with a single that was nearly a mirror image of Allen’s single moments earlier, scoring Tucker to give the Chevy Boys a 8-6 lead. Austin Allen then put an exclamation point on the frame with a triple to deep right field that scored Allen and St. Clair to set the final margin.

Jones got the rally going for Gwatney in the bottom of the second inning when he reached first after striking out on a passed ball, and he advanced on a walk for Tucker. Eight-hole Ryan Mallison then singled to shallow center to score Jones, and Courtland McDonald hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Tucker at third.

Troy Allen loaded the bases with a single and St. Clair scored Mallison and McDonald to pull Jacksonville to within 6-3. Austin Allen then scored Troy Allen when he reached on an error, but St. Clair was tagged out at the plate by Centennial catcher Jones to retire the side with Cabot leading 6-4.

Cabot could not answer late as Tucker struck out two and forced a groundout to end it all in the top of the fourth despite a single for Adam Hicks and a walk for Tristan Bulice.

Centennial Bank fared better early with Hicks leading the way on a single from the two-hole slot. Bulice advanced him when he was hit by a pitch and Glover Helpenstill loaded the bases with a walk.

Coleman McAtee scored Hicks on a fielder’s choice that retired Helpenstill, and Bulice scored on a passed ball to give Cabot a 2-0 lead. Jonathan Latture loaded the bases again when he was hit by a pitch before Brandon Jones came away with the biggest hit in the game, a three-run home run shot over the left field wall with what appeared at the time to be a commanding 5-0 lead for Centennial Bank.

Troy Allen was 2 for 2 with a RBI for Jacksonville and St. Clair was 2 for 3 with a RBI. For Cabot, Hicks was 3 for 3.