Friday, July 12, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Sr. Colts finish third at Illinois

Leader sportswriter

North Little Rock’s senior American Legion team has improved its overall record to 27-3 since the Fourth of July holiday. The Colts compiled a 4-1 record at the annual three-day Southwest Illinois Firecracker Tournament that began July 5 at Alton, Ill., and on Wednesday, North Little Rock pummeled Pine Bluff into submission with a 13-0 blowout win at Pine Bluff.

Connor Eller got the win on the mound in Wednesday’s game. He threw all seven innings to record the shutout victory. Offensively, North Little Rock had several key hits that led to the blowout. Catcher Alex Gosser hit a towering home run and Nick Cleveland finished the game a home run shy of the cycle.

L.J. Wallace also had a strong showing against Pine Bluff as he finished the game with two doubles and multiple RBIs. The Colts scored their first run in the top of the first inning before scoring five in the fourth and seven in the sixth to set the final score.

At the annual Southwest Illinois Firecracker Tournament, North Little Rock won its pool by finishing with a perfect 4-0 record to advance to the semifinals.

On July 5, the Colts beat Ballwin, Mo. 8-0 in the first game of the tournament and later that day they edged by West O’Fallon, Mo. 2-1 to win the second game.

On July 6, North Little Rock improved to 3-0 in pool play with a 5-0 win over Jerseyville, Ill. and later that day narrowly beat the tournament host 5-4 to win its pool.

With the win, the Colts advanced to the semifinals along with Bryant, Jefferson City, Mo., and Alton, who earned the wild card spot as it finished pool play with a 3-1 record.

The Colts were put out of the tournament in the semifinals after losing 6-1 to eventual tournament champion Bryant, who beat Jefferson City in the championship game.

North Little Rock coach Robert Hopkins was especially pleased with the way his team played in the competitive tournament, considering it was playing without one of its top players, Dylan Boone. Boone, who’s the team’s leading hitter and one of its key starters on the mound, has been out of action since being injured in batting practice.

During the practice session, Boone was in the field and took a bad hop just above his eyebrow, which caused it to split open and required nine stitches.

“He had nine stitches, so he didn’t make the trip with us,” Hopkins said. “So the fact that we didn’t have him both offensively and pitching I was thrilled with being 4-1 on the trip. I was very pleased with the whole thing.”

North Little Rock will have revenge on its mind in today’s noon game against Paragould at Burns Park. Paragould is one of the three teams to beat the Colts this summer, and North Little Rock will have two more regular season games before the Senior Zone 3 Tournament begins July 19 at Burns Park.