Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney mercy rules Bruins

Leader sportswriter

Monday’s AA American Legion matchup between Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville was scoreless after an inning of play, but the Chevy Boys settled into the flow of the game from the second inning on to leave Dupree Park with a 10-0 shutout win over the Bruins in four innings of play.

“We’re playing pretty good right now,” said Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham of his AA team. “This bunch has been out there for a little while and they know what to do. The high-school coaches have done a good job with them and that makes it a little easier on us because we haven’t had much time on the practice field.”

D.J. Scott earned the win on the hill for Jacksonville (10-2). He threw all four scoreless innings and gave up just two hits and two walks, while recording a game-high four strikeouts. The Chevy Boys’ offense found its groove at the plate in the second inning to take some of the pressure off of Scott.

Cleanup hitter Greg Jones started things off with a stand-up double to deep left field. Donte Harris came in as Jones’ courtesy runner, and five-hole hitter Courtland McDonald walked the next at bat.

With runners at the corners and no outs, McDonald broke for second base with LaDerrious Perry at the plate. Bruins’ catcher Carson Sanders tried to catch McDonald stealing with a throw to second base, but on the throw, which was slightly off the mark, Harris broke for home and scored with ease to give Jacksonville an early 1-0 lead.

McDonald advanced to third base on a bunt single down the third baseline by Perry, and scored the next at bat on a groundout by Brandon Hickingbotham. Perry scored the third run of the game two batters later on a fly ball to right field by James Tucker.

Tucker was safe on the play as the Bruins’ right-fielder lost sight of the ball and couldn’t make the catch. Tucker moved to second base on the dropped ball and scored the next at bat on a hard-hit single by leadoff hitter Derek St. Clair that was just out of the reach of shortstop Hunter Heslep.

Scott kept the Bruins’ offense at bay in the third inning and Jacksonville added three more runs to take a 7-0 lead after three. Jones walked to start the inning and McDonald followed with a stand-up double to left field. Perry was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Deaundray Harris walked the next at bat to score Donte Harris, Jones’ courtesy runner.

St. Clair drove in runs six and seven two batters later with a bloop-single to shallow left-centerfield. Sylvan Hills’ pitching struggles continued in the fourth and final inning as Jacksonville’s eighth run was walked in.

The ninth run for the Chevy Boys came as the result of a catcher’s interference call with the bases loaded, and Perry scored the game’s final run from third base on a two-out ground ball to shortstop by St. Clair that resulted in an E6.

“In that second game (Jacob) Riggs just caught a couple of bad breaks on the mound,” said Sylvan Hills coach Matt Presson. “We had a bad read out there in left field and we missed one, and then my right fielder misses one – just giving outs away.

“We just have to cut down on walks and errors, just simple stuff – making plays, make good pitches. We’re leaving runners in scoring position. We missed a bunt. But with some work and some time I think we can get it together.”

Jacksonville’s junior and senior teams will play again today at home against North Little Rock. The juniors will play the first game which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sylvan Hills (2-4) will play at Conway tomorrow in a pair of doubleheader games with the first game starting at 6 p.m.