Wednesday, July 02, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Searcy wins in extra frame

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Senior American Legion team still hasn’t found the magic that made it one of the top high-school teams in the state. The legion team’s woes continued Monday when it blew leads of 5-1 and 8-4 to fall 9-8 in extra innings to Searcy at Dupree Park.

Searcy had to do very little to create runs. Jacksonville pitching walked or hit 12 batters and its defense committed seven errors for a total of 18 Searcy base runners without a base hit. The Silverbacks, who played as the home team because the game was supposed to be in Searcy, added eight base hits, but failed to get many timely hits to create its own runs.

Jacksonville left a lot of runs on the base paths as well. One good thing to come out of the game for the Chevy Boys is that they finally hit the ball consistently. Jacksonville got 13 base hits, walked six times and reached on three Searcy errors.

In an overall poorly played game that lasted three hours and 20 minutes, Searcy won it on two outfield errors in the bottom of the eighth. Zach Anderson hit a very routine fly ball to left field that landed in D.J. Scott’s glove and bounced out.

After a sacrifice bunt that moved the runner into scoring position, Tyler Montgomery over-ran a fly ball to right field, going too far to his right and then slipping when he tried to stop and go back to his left to make the catch, allowing Anderson to score from second base.

Jacksonville starting pitcher Derek St. Clair struggled tremendously with control throughout his four innings plus three on the mound.

He started by hitting three of the first four batters, with a strikeout in between. After a second strikeout, St. Clair threw a wild pitch that allowed Searcy leadoff hitter Mickey Ivey to score. St. Clair went on to walk the sixth batter to load the bases again, but got out of the jam with a groundout to second base.

Jacksonville still held a 3-1 lead after St. Clair’s early struggles. Courtland McDonald and Ryan Mallison opened the top of the first inning with back-to-back singles. They moved up a base on an error at shortstop that left Blake Perry safe at first and the bases loaded.

McDonald then scored on an errant pickoff throw to first. Mallison scored on a hit by St. Clair and Perry trotted in on an error at second base off the bat of James Tucker.

The Chevy Boys added a run in the top of the second when Laderrious Perry led off with a double to the wall in straightaway center field. Scott followed with a bunt single when he beat the throw to first base. The throw was also wide, allowing Laderrious Perry to score.

They went up 5-1 in the top of the third on a leadoff base hit by St. Clair and an RBI single by McDonald. It was in the bottom of the fourth inning that Jacksonville’s defensive woes began to play their part in the loss. All seven Gwatney errors came in the last five innings.

Anderson reached on an error by Mallison at second base to start a three-run fourth for Searcy. St. Clair fanned the next two batters with Anderson still at first.

Nine-hole hitter Luke Gillihan then got Searcy’s first base hit and Ivey walked to load the bases. Jordan Jones then hit a single to shallow right field to drive in one run, and Laderrious Perry misplayed the hop to allow a second run to score. A third hit of the inning drove in the third run and cut Jacksonville’s lead to 5-4.

The Chevy Boys went up by four again with three runs in the top of the sixth, but gave up four in the bottom half to tie the game. Mallison started the top half with a walk, followed by base hits by Greg Jones and Blake Perry.

St. Clair executed a squeeze bunt to score Mallison and James Tucker drove in Jones with a base hit to right field. Troy Allen walked to load the bases and Laderrious Perry beat out a slow grounder down the third baseline to score another run.

In the bottom of the inning, St. Clair gave up a single to Ivey then hit Jones. After a fly ball behind second base was missed by Blake Perry. Though the runners weren’t trying to advance, McDonald scooped up the loose ball and fired to third, but his throw sailed over the fence and grandstand seating of Hickingbotham Field.

That was all for St. Clair, who left the bases loaded for Tucker. Tucker also suffered a rough start. His first pitch was hit to the wall for a two-RBI double. His next eight walked two batters and loaded the bases again, still with no outs. Austin Calhoun flew out to center field and the runners tagged.

One run scored, but McDonald’s throw to third was on target this time, hitting Blake Perry’s glove in the base path and completing the 8-5 double play. After another walk, Tucker got a fly out to right field to keep the score at 8-8.

Mallison and Jones walked to leadoff the top of the seventh, but Mallison was caught stealing and two outs followed. Laderrious Perry got his second base hit with two outs in the top of the eighth, but was hurt diving back to first base on a pickoff throw.

That led to Montgomery taking his place in right field in the bottom half of the inning, a position unfamiliar for the North Pulaski sophomore and Gwatney Junior player.