Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney is first team ousted at Zone 3 tourney

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville senior American Legion team’s season came to an end Saturday with an 8-6 loss to Conway in the Zone 3 tournament in Cabot. The Gwatney Chevrolet team battled hard after giving up a grand slam in the very first inning and falling behind by four runs, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

Conway loaded the bases with a hit and two walks in the opening inning. Then with two outs, Josh Dollarhide smashed a 2-0 fastball over the fence in left field to quickly give the Cougars a 4-0 lead.

Jacksonville scored two runs in the top of the second. D.J. Scott got a leadoff single and Caleb McMunn walked. A ground ball to third base by Peyton Traywick advanced Scott to third. A bunt back to the pitcher by Courtland McDonald scored Scott and advanced McMunn into scoring position. Ryan Mallison then singled to right field to score McMunn and pull Jacksonville to within 4-2.

Conway made it 5-2 in the bottom of the second on two more walks and another base hit. Jacksonville got back to within two runs in the third when Colton Goodman drew a leadoff walk and made his way around the bases on wild pitches and passed balls.

But Conway always seemed to have an answer for Jacksonville’s rallies. In the bottom of the third, Conway scored two more runs after leading off the inning with a double and another walk. Chad Cox, who hit the double, stole third base and scored on a fly out to center field by Brent Sutherland.

Jacksonville pitcher Bran-don Hawkins then struck out Cody Holmes and Jake Bryan on just seven pitches combined, but the one ball was wild that allowed Dollarhide to score and give Conway a 7-3 lead.

McMunn and Traywick got back-to-back singles to start the fourth for Jacksonville. Two outs later, base hits by Brandon Hickingbotham and Goodman scored the two base runners and pulled Gwatney Chevrolet within 7-5.

McMunn took the mound for Jacksonville in the fourth inning and held Conway scoreless over the next three innings, but Jacksonville’s bats also went silent.

The Chevy Boys could only muster one hit over the last five innings when McDonald slammed a 2-1 pitch over the fence in the power alley of left-centerfield.

That made the score 7-6, but Conway set the final margin with a run in the seventh inning on a walk and two base hits.

Jacksonville got 10 base hits with Mallison’s 3 for 5 performance leading the way offensively.

Hickingbotham went 2 for 5 and was the only other Chevy Boy with multiple base hits. Conway got just seven hits, but drew 10 walks to supplement those hits. Cox led the way for the Cougars, going 3 for 4 with a double.

Hawkins took the loss on the mound in his three innings of work. He gave up seven earned runs on three hits and six walks. McMunn threw four and a third innings. He gave up one earned run on five hits and four walks. Chris Penn faced the last two batters and got two pop ups to close out the bottom of the eighth inning.

Jacksonville finishes the season with a 12-12 record.