Monday, June 10, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney team wins first two

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville senior American Legion team was the last team in the state to get the season started, and started it well, picking up two wins in its first two games. On Tuesday, the senior Chevy Boys beat Conway 8-3 at Dupree Park, then got a walk-off run in the bottom of the seventh to beat Benton Sports Shop 8-7.

Benton took a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Thursday’s game. Gwatney pitcher Jared Wilson hit the first batter he faced and walked the second. Leadoff hitter Tyler Lewis made it to third base on the walk when the ball got past catcher Greg Jones.

With runners on the corners, Wilson balked in the first run of the game. Three-hole hitter Carson Holloway doubled over the head of right fielder Kaleb Reeves to drive in the second run of the game.

Two batters later, Holloway scored on a double to left field by Trey Bishop to make it 3-0.

Wilson got the Sports Shop team to go down in order in the second inning and Gwatney got two back in the bottom of the same frame.

Reeves drew a leadoff walk and Courtland McDonald hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. He reached second when a relay throw in a double play attempt got past Benton’s Bishop at first base. A pitch hit Blake Perry and Ryan Mallison hit a sacrifice grounder to first base that put runners at second and third with two outs.

The rally appeared to end when D.J. Scott popped up to third base, but Benton’s Grayson Chilton dropped it, allowing both runners to score and cut Benton’s margin to one.

Gwatney tied it in the bottom of the third on back-to-back base hits by Jones and Reeves, but Benton reclaimed the lead with a run in the top of the fourth. Hunter McDade reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on two sacrifice hits. He then scored on a wild pitch by Wilson to make it 4-3.

Gwatney took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth with one earned and one unearned run. Blake Perry drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double to left-centerfield by Mallison. With two outs, Derek St. Clair hit a blooper to shortstop, where Benton’s Tyler misplayed it, allowing Mallison to score and give the Chevy Boys a 5-4 lead.

Benton got two runs to reclaim the lead in the fifth inning. Chilton reached on an error to start the inning. Pitcher Jared Wilson then got Bishop to fly out and struck out Beesley, but he walked the next two to load the bases. With a 1-1 count to batter McDade, Wilson made a pick-off throw to first base that went awry and allowed two runs to score.

Hickingbotham put James Tucker on the mound, who got a strikeout to end the inning.
Wilson got a no decision for his four and two-thirds innings of work. He gave up only three hits while walking five, hitting two and recording two strikeouts.

Benton went up 7-5 in the top of the sixth with an unearned run. Jacksonville got one back on another infield pop-up that was dropped, this time by the first baseman that allowed St. Clair to score with two outs.

Benton then walked two and hit two in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the game away. McDonald walked, reached second on a passed ball, moved to third on a sacrifice by Perry and scored on another passed ball. Mallison then walked, Scott singled and Tucker was hit to load the bases. Alex Broadwell struck out, but Troy Allen was hit to drive in the winning run.

Jacksonville did most of its damage in Tuesday’s win over Conway in the third inning. Four base hits and four walks turned into five Gwatney runs and a 5-0 lead. The Chevy Boys scored two more on four walks and one hit in the fifth inning. The final run came in the sixth when Austin Allen hit a leadoff triple to the wall in straightaway centerfield. Two batters later, McDonald laid down a perfect squeeze bunt for an RBI single.

Eric Moore got the win on the mound on Tuesday. He pitched four innings, giving up four hits while striking out three and walking four.