Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney wins half of weekend series

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville senior American Legion team split a pair of games with Paragould’s Glen Sain Automotive squad at Dupree Park over the weekend. Jacksonville’s Gwatney Chevrolet team won 6-2 on Saturday, then lost 5-2 on Sunday.

Jacksonville lefty Brandon Hawkins threw five innings of shutout baseball until yielding two runs on four walks and an error he committed. But by then, Jacksonville had built a 6-0 lead and Hawkins regained his control to finish out the victory.

Gwatney Chevrolet got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning when Courtland McDonald and Ryan Mallison got back-to-back base hits, with Mallison’s line drive scoring McDonald. Mallison tried to stretch his single into a double and was thrown out at second base.

Jacksonville added three in the fourth inning on three hits and three walks. D.J. Scott, Laderrious Perry and Colton Goodman got consecutive, one-out singles, with Goodman’s shot to right field scoring Scott. After an infield pop-up, Peyton Traywick, McDonald and Mallison drew three-straight walks to drive in Perry and Goodman.

Brandon Hickingbotham started a two-run fifth inning with a leadoff single to center field. He was still standing on first with two outs before Goodman singled to put runners on the corners. Chris Penn then singled to score Hickingbotham, and Traywick singled down the right-field line to score Goodman. McDonald made it four-straight base hits with another shot down the first-base line, but Traywick was thrown out on the base paths to end the inning.

Jacksonville totaled 11 base hits, with McDonald, Hickingbotham and Goodman picking up two apiece.

Hawkins gave up just three hits and one earned run in seven innings of work. He struck out seven, walked six and hit one batter.

Errors were the difference in Sunday’s game. Both teams got good starting pitching and good relief pitching, but Paragould played clean defense while Jacksonville committed six errors.

Glen Sain took the lead in the first inning, scoring three runs on no hits and three Gwatney Chevrolet errors. The first two batters reached base on infield errors. After a Hickingbotham strikeout, another booted ground ball allowed the first two base runners to score. After a walk and passed ball, Paragould’s Hayden Winfrey hit a deep fly ball to left field to score Christian Dean for the 3-0 lead.

Jacksonville hit the ball hard in its turn at bat in the first, but couldn’t find the gaps in Paragould’s defense. Scott hit a leadoff single to left field to get Gwatney Chevrolet off to a good start. Mallison then hit a hard line drive right to Paragould shortstop Joel Kester. After a strikeout, Hickingbotham laced a shot to right field, where Lucas Reddick barely had to move to make the catch for the final out.

Jacob Penny got a hit to start the top of the second inning for Paragould. Cash Lee bunted him to second base. Leadoff hitter Logan Reddick grounded out to short and Penny tried for third. Goodman’s throw from first to third was in plenty of time to get Penny, but off target and bounced into foul territory as Penny trotted home for the easy score.

With the bases empty and two outs, Hickingbotham hit Lane Ditto, who then reached second on a passed ball. Kester singled to score Ditto. Dean then singled to left, but Kester tried to reach third base and was thrown out by Perry to end the inning.

Jacksonville scored one run in the second inning after Goodman singled and Penn was hit by a pitch. Perry bunted to advance the runners and Traywick grounded out to short, scoring Goodman.

Hickingbotham sat Paragould down in order in the top of the third, and Jacksonville scored the game’s final run in the bottom half of the same inning. Scott took a pitch between the shoulder blades to start things off, and Mallison doubled down the left-field line to drive him home.

Jacksonville’s first two batters walked to start the sixth inning before Paragould starting pitcher Ty Gordon was replaced by Matt Campbell. That proved to be the end of Jacksonville’s chances. Campbell struck out Perry and Traywick before hitting Deaundray Harris. He then struck out Scott with the bases loaded to end the inning. Campbell then fanned Mallison, walked McDonald and struck out Donte Harris and Cody Savage to end the game. Gordon threw five innings, giving up four hits, three walks and two hit batters while striking out five. Campbell threw two innings for Paragould, striking out six, walking one and hitting one batter.

Hickingbotham threw four innings for Jacksonville. He gave up three hits and one earned run, striking out, walking and hitting one batter each.

Goodman threw the last three innings for Jacksonville. He gave up one hit and no runs, also with one strikeout, one walk and one hit batter.

Dean and Scott led their respective teams with two hits apiece.