Friday, July 06, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney crushes Beebe in first round

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville’s Gwatney Chevrolet junior American Legion team dominated Beebe’s Post 91 team in the opening round of the Junior Legion Zone tournament with a 16-1 win after four innings Friday at North Little Rock’s Burns Park.

Gwatney got off to a tremendous start, scoring six runs in the first inning alone to set the tone for the remainder of the game.

Leadoff hitter Troy Allen walked to open the game, and two-hole hitter Derek St. Clair followed with a single up the middle.

Centerfielder Austin Allen hit two of his game-high five RBI’s the next at bat with a line drive single to left-center field. Troy Allen and St. Clair scored on the play. Two batters later, Greg Jones singled to right-center field, driving in Austin Allen and Justin Abbott to give Jacksonville a 4-0 lead.

James Tucker drove in Gwatney’s fifth run of the inning with a grounder to shortstop that allowed Jones to score from third. Kaleb Reeves advanced to third on Tucker’s RBI after hitting a stand-up double to start the inning, and scored on a passed ball a few pitches later.

“Our seventh hitter was the first out in that opening inning,” said Jacksonville coach David St. Clair. “Austin Allen was huge today with his five RBI’s. We’ve hit the ball like that all year, which is what we expect out of them. We just have kind of had a lull over the past couple of weeks, but this is what we’re capable of playing like every day.”

Beebe scored its lone run of the game in the bottom of the first when cleanup hitter Dylan Tippy hit a line drive single to the gap in left field. Leadoff hitter J.T. Rainbolt scored on the play after singling to start things off.

Jacksonville picked up where it left off in the second inning, scoring three more runs to push its lead to 9-1. Gwatney scored again in the third after Austin Allen hit a stand-up triple to the wall in right field. St. Clair scored all the way from first on the play.

Deaundre Harris scored Gwatney’s 11th run in the top of the fourth on a failed pickoff attempt at third base. Runs 12 and 13 were scored when left fielder Courtland McDonald hit a grounder to second base with two on. The ball was fielded cleanly but the throw to first was off, and Tucker and Ryan Mallison scored on the play.

Austin Allen hit his last two RBI’s of the day with another stand-up triple, this time hitting it to deep left-center field. Donte Harris and Troy Allen scored on the play, and Austin Allen scored the game’s final run on a passed ball at home.

Blake Perry picked up the win for Jacksonville on the mound, striking out three in equal innings of work. Austin Allen and St. Clair each had three hits in the game. Abbott and McDonald had two apiece.

Jacksonville moves on in the winner’s bracket of the tournament and will play the Clarksville/North Little Rock winner at 7 p.m. today. Beebe faces elimination at 2 p.m. today against the loser of the same game.