Thursday, July 03, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Losing streak ends at Conway

Leader sports editor

The Gwatney Chevrolet Senior American Legion team finally got back in the win column on Tuesday, going on the road to beat Conway 5-1 with nine base hits and an outstanding performance on the mound by James Tucker.

Tucker gave up just three base hits in going six innings before a deluge of rain forced an early ending.

“Tucker pitched pretty good,” said Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham. “We haven’t been playing very well all summer. We still made some silly errors that we shouldn’t be making, but hopefully we’re coming around. This one was a little better.”

Gwatney came into the game riding a three-game losing streak and sporting a disappointing 3-8 record. In a loss the day before to Searcy, the team showed signs that the offense was coming around, but pitching and fielding were major struggles.

“We’ve hit the ball in both games this week,” Hickingbotham said. “We chased Searcy’s best pitcher off the mound in the first inning.

“We walked everybody in the ball park on Monday, but James had a good game at Conway. I mean a good one.”

Tucker’s three hits allowed were accompanied by just three walks and six strikeouts.

It took a few innings for Jacksonville to get the offense going at Morrilton, as the home team scored one run in the bottom of the first inning then held that lead until the fourth.

Gwatney scored two runs in the fourth, with a rally that was started by a one-out double by Blake Perry. Tucker followed that with a walk and Laderrious Perry hit an infield single that loaded the bases. Deaundray Harris then walked to drive in one run. The other scored on a wild pitch.

Gwatney scored the last three in the very next inning, starting with three straight walks by Donte Harris, Ryan Mallison and Derek St. Clair. Greg Jones then singled to score Donte Harris before an error sent two more runs across the plate.

Blake Perry hit a hard grounder that got Mallison thrown out at home on the force. The Conway catcher went for the double play at first, but his throw was high and sailed into right field, allowing St. Clair and Jones to score and set the final margin.

The senior team hosted Conway on Thursday after The Leader’s early holiday deadlines. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

The Gwatney junior team lost four games this week, running its losing streak to five and dropping its record to 10-12. They lost to Conway on Monday then dropped both ends of a doubleheader at home Wednesday to Morrilton. They also played Conway on Thursday, and will begin play in the Zone 5 tournament in Heber Springs on Saturday.