Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Chevy Boys fall in semis of Wood Bat

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville put together a nice run in the People’s Bank Wood Bat Classic in Sheridan, advancing to the semifinal round on Sunday before losing to North Little Rock’s senior team, which eventually won the tournament. The battle was one between undefeated teams, as the Chevy Boys entered with a 6-0 record while the Colts came in 13-0.

In Sunday’s matchup, The Gwatney Chevrolet team fell 5-2 as North Little Rock pitcher J.D. Miller threw a three-hitter over seven innings to seal the win for the Colts.

“We just ran out of gas,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “That young man they had on the mound is outstanding and we just gave out. That’s a veteran team. We’re playing mostly young kids, junior players. I’m proud of them for the way they competed.”

With 13 players on Jacksonville’s 18-man roster that are also junior-league certified, North Little Rock coach Bob Hopkins was also impressed with Jacksonville.

“They played really well this whole tournament,” said Hopkins. “I was very impressed. They’re pretty solid and they’re going to be really good.”

The Colts took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning off three consecutive singles. L.J. Wallace started the two-out rally with a single to left field. Dylan Boone then singled down the first baseline, but right fielder Deaundray Harris missed the ball on the hop, allowing Wallace to score and leaving Boone safe at third. North little Rock’s designated hitter Landon Hearnes then singled to centerfield to score Boone.

The Colts made it 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning, but Jacksonville pitcher Eric Moore worked his way out of  a huge jam to hold North Little Rock to just one run.

Moore hit nine-hole hitter Will Hopkins to start the inning, gave up an infield single to leadoff hitter Justin Weigle, then hit Dylan Huckaby to load the bases with no outs.

Moore then struck out Wallace. Boone hit a fly ball to right field, where Harris made the catch, but made a strong, but wild throw home that hit high on the home-plate backstop. Hopkins scored on the play, but Moore struck out Hearnes to get out of the predicament with minimal damage done.

Gwatney made a game of it with two runs in the top of the third. Centerfielder Jared Wilson started things off with Jacksonville’s first hit off Miller, a single to centerfield. Designated hitter Courtland McDonald then doubled to the gap in left field to put runners at second and third.

The Perry’s batted the runs in. Blake Perry grounded out to shortstop, but scored Wilson as McDonald advanced to third base. Laderrious Perry then grounded to second base to bring McDonald home.

Jacksonville got just one more hit off Miller the rest of the way, but struck out just once more as well.

“They’re solid at the plate,” Hopkins said of Jacksonville. “Miller has done a great job on the mound for us this year, but they didn’t swing at many bad pitches. They put the ball in play. We played really good defense though and that was the difference.”

Another Jacksonville error led to North Little Rock’s final two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Blake Perry, who started at third base, took the mound after a leadoff walk. He struck out Wallace before hitting Boone and giving up a single to centerfield to Hearnes to load the bases.

Nick Cleveland then grounded to third base, where Alex Broadwell fielded the ball cleanly, but made a bad throw home trying to get the force at the plate. That allowed Huckaby and Boone to score and set the final margin.

Jacksonville’s scheduled game with Conway was canceled on Monday. The Chevy Boys played at Burns Park on Tuesday against North Little Rock, and will travel to Cabot on Thursday for the first meeting of the season between the two rivals.

Cabot White will host Jacksonville’s junior team at 6 p.m. with the two senior teams set for approximately 8 p.m.