Friday, June 26, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville’s seniors get win

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s Gwatney Chevrolet senior American Legion team held off a seventh-inning rally to secure a 9-7 win over Searcy in its first game of the Gwatney Chevrolet Summer Classic tournament Wednesday at Dupree Park.

Jacksonville entered the seventh inning with a 9-4 lead, but Searcy posted three runs off relief pitcher Brandon Hawkins, who had taken the mound in the sixth inning. Hawkins gathered himself after giving up the three runs with one out, and struck out Hunter Baker and Connor Sparks to seal the win.

Playing as the visiting team, Jacksonville took the first lead of the game with a run in the top of the second inning. Colton Goodman reached on an error at second base and scored on a base hit by Deaundray Harris. The Gwatney squad made it 3-0 in the top of the third. Ryan Mallison hit a one-out double to center field and scored on a hit by Brandon Hickingbotham. He later scored when Goodman again reached on an error, this time in center field.

But that lead evaporated in the bottom half of the same frame. Two-hole hitter Will Donavan drew a one-out walk, and that was followed by four consecutive base hits by Reed Milligan, Elliot Traike, Ryan Rogers and Andrew Moore that tied the game at 3-3.

After a scoreless fourth inning, Jacksonville got three runs across the plate in the top of the fifth. Mallison got things started with a single to the wall in right-center field. With one out, Laderrious Perry singled to the same spot as Mallison to score the lead runner. Chris Penn walked and Goodman doubled to left to drive in the two base runners and give Gwatney Chevrolet a 6-3 lead.

Searcy added a run in the bottom of the fifth with two walks and a base hit, but Jacksonville got it back with a run in the top of the sixth. D.J. Scott got a one-out base hit to right field, stole second and moved to third on a grounder by Mallison. He then scored on a passed ball.

Hawkins gave up a hit and hit a batter in the sixth, but got out of that jam with a strikeout, and Jacksonville added three more runs in the top of the seventh to take command of the game.

Perry and Penn got back-to-back base hits to start the inning, and Perry scored on another RBI base hit by Goodman. After two strikeouts, Hawkins singled to score Penn before Searcy relief pitcher Sparks fanned Scott to strike out the side.

Mallison and Perry each went 3 for 4 and scored two runs to lead Jacksonville offensively. Goodman went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and Hickingbotham also went 2 for 4 for Jacksonville, which compiled 14 hits as a team.

Searcy got 11 base hits, with Moore going 3 for 4 to lead the way, and Rogers going 2 for 4. No other Searcy player got more than one base hit.

Goodman started on the mound for Jacksonville and threw five innings. He gave up seven hits and four earned runs while striking out and walking four batters each. Hawkins gave up four hits in two innings, striking out four and hitting one batter.

Jacksonville will play its third game of the tournament at 10 a.m. today against Benton The championship game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday.