Saturday, March 12, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville loses big to Greenbrier

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville baseball team struggled to find the strike zone in the first two innings of Monday’s second round of the Red Devil Classic against Greenbrier, and the visiting Panthers used that to their advantage and cruised to a 14-4 win over the tournament hosts at Dupree Park.

Greenbrier scored the game’s first 11 runs, seven of which came in the first inning. The Panthers started the game with a leadoff blooper to shallow right field, and the next four batters walked.

The third of those four walks gave Greenbrier cleanup hitter Wyatt Brewer an easy RBI and scored the game’s first run. After the fourth-consecutive walk, Jacksonville changed pitchers, but the next batter reached base after getting hit by a pitch.

That gave Greenbrier a 3-0 lead, and the fourth run came on an infield single to second base. Another hit batter with the bases loaded and an infield single to shortstop gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead, with the top of the order coming up.

A sacrifice fly to right field resulted in the first out of the inning, but the Panthers scored on the play to up their lead to 7-0. Two more walks were issued in the inning, but the Red Devils didn’t give up any more runs.

After a scoreless first inning for Jacksonville, the Panthers added four more to their side of the board to further their lead to 11-0. The Red Devils answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning – all with two outs.

Wesley Williams got the two-out rally started with a walk, and went to second base thanks to an errant pickoff throw to first base. Caleb Smith singled to the left-field gap the next at-bat and drove in Williams for the Red Devils’ first run.

That brought leadoff hitter Tyson Flowers to the plate, and he came through with a bloop single down the right-field line and Smith scored all the way from first base. Mike Havard then singled to the gap in right-center.

Flowers scored on the play, but Havard was thrown out at second trying to stretch the single into a double, which resulted in the third out of the inning. Each team scored a run in the third inning.

Catcher Javan Wakefield scored Jacksonville’s run in the third. He reached base after being hit by a pitch with one out. He then advanced to second base on a passed ball before stealing third.

First baseman Brandon Hickingbotham walked before Wakefield scored on a sac fly to center field off the bat of second baseman Trent Toney. Toney’s sacrifice was the second out of the inning, and Caden Sample flew out to left the following at-bat to end the third.

Greenbrier added two more runs to its side of the board in the top of the fourth before holding Jacksonville scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, and the game ended at the end of the fourth.

The Panthers outhit the Red Devils 9-4. Jacksonville gave up eight walks and hit four other Greenbrier batters. Greenbrier gave up three walks and hit one JHS batter. Jacksonville also had four errors in the game, while Greenbrier had one in the four innings played.

Six different Panthers got at least one base hit Thursday. Flowers led Jacksonville (1-3) with two hits – both singles. Havard and Smith also singled for the Red Devils.