Friday, June 24, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney falters late at home

Leader sports editor

Since making a strong run to the championship game of the Wood Bat Classic last week, the Gwatney Chevrolet Senior American Legion team ran its losing streak to three with an 8-4 loss to White Hall-Relyance Bank on Thursday in the first round of the FDH Investments American Legion Classic at Dupree Park.

Jacksonville led at the end of the first four innings, but failed to capitalize on some prime scoring opportunities that would’ve given it more of a cushion.

Starting pitcher Mike Havard began to struggle finding the strike zone in the fourth inning, walking three of the first four batters, but was able to minimize the damage.

With one out, White Hall nine-hole hitter Remington Curtis singled to right field to drive in one run. Cade Canada rounded third as well, trying to score from second base, but Javan Wakefield’s throw beat him to the plate, and catcher Peyton Traywick applied the tag for the second out of the inning.

Havard then jammed leadoff hitter Chase Bryan with a curveball. Bryan’s check swing produced a weak grounder back to the mound where Havard fielded it and threw to first for the third out.

Leading 3-2, Havard got the first batter out in the top of the fifth, but the Relyance bats came to life after that. Caleb Carr and Lane Hartsfield hit back-to-back doubles to right field to tie the game.

Hartsfield then scored on an error in left field that left Zachary Harrison safe at second base. Bryce Kincaid singled to right to put runners on the corners.

Canada then hit a home run over the wall in left field that scored three, gave Relyance a 7-3 lead and ended Havard’s night on the mound.

Brandon Hawkins took the hill for Jacksonville and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

The Chevy Boys (9-8) were setting up for a big inning in the bottom of the sixth when Caden Sample led off with a single to right and stole second base. But he was picked off by Carr for the first out.

It proved an important out because Traywick and Caleb Smith each walked and Tyson Flowers singled to right to drive in a run and leave the bases loaded with the meat of the lineup coming to the plate.

But Carr overcame the stumble. He struck out Havard and Caleb McMunn to get out of the jam.

Relyance added its last run in the bottom of the sixth with a walk and two errors, one each by Hawkins and Flowers.

Hawkins and Carr both struck out the side without a hit in the seventh inning.

Jacksonville grabbed the early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning on two walks, an error and an RBI base hit by McMunn.

By the time McMunn got back to the plate in the second inning, the bases were loaded with two outs. He hit a hard shot to right field, but right to the fielder for the third out.

Caleb Smith scored Jacksonville’s third run after drawing a one-out walk in the fourth inning. He later scored on an error at first base.

Havard went 4 1/3 innings on the mound. He gave up eight hits and six earned runs, while striking out three and walking four. Hawkins threw 2 2/3 with no hits and no earned runs while striking out six and walking no one.

Carr went the distance for White Hall. In his seven innings of work, he gave up five hits and three earned runs while striking out 10 and walking seven.