Friday, June 03, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney gets no-no for win

Leader sportswriter

Rain put an early end to Thursday night’s Senior American Legion game between Jacksonville and Cabot, but it was all Gwatney Chevrolet in the 3 1/2 innings played, as the Chevy Boys outscored Centennial Bank 10-1 at Dupree Park.

Thursday’s game was the first of the summer for the Gwatney Chevrolet Senior team (1-0). Cabot’s AA team (1-1) played its first game Tuesday night against Russellville, and won that game 3-2. Gavin Tillery earned the win on the mound in that game. He pitched the first four innings, giving up only one earned run.

Jacksonville’s Mike Havard was the winning pitcher Thursday. Havard threw 3 1/2 innings of no-hit ball, giving up four walks while striking out five Centennial Bank batters. But because of the wet conditions, Havard struggled to find the strike zone early, as did Cabot’s starting pitcher.

Cabot’s first two batters walked in the top of the first inning. Havard struck out two of the next three batters he faced, but walked the second of those three to load the bases. Brian Tillery was then hit by a pitch, which scored leadoff hitter Caleb Harpole for Centennial Bank’s lone run of the night.

Cabot’s lead didn’t last long, though, as Jacksonville scored five of their 10 runs in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Tyson Flowers reached on an infield single to start things off for Gwatney, and Havard walked the next at-bat.

Before Havard walked, Flowers advanced to second base on a passed ball, and after Havard walked, the two runners advanced to second and third on another passed ball. Flowers then scored on a 5-3 groundout by Caleb McMunn, tying the game at 1-1.

Brandon Hickingbotham was hit by a pitch before Caden Sample drove in the go-ahead run with a one-out single. Kameron Whitmore reached on an E5 the following at-bat, which allowed Hickingbotham to score and give Gwatney Chevrolet a 3-1 lead.

Two batters later, Sample and Whitmore both scored on a two-out, standup double to right center by Caleb Smith, which upped Jacksonville’s lead to 5-1. Neither team scored in the second inning, but Jacksonville added five more in the bottom of the third to set the final margin.

Smith led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk. Peyton Traywick laid down a sacrifice bunt the following at-bat, but the Cabot third baseman couldn’t field the ball cleanly, leaving both runners safe at first and second with no outs.

With Flowers at the plate, Smith and Traywick advanced to third and second base on a wild pitch, and advanced again on a passed ball. That sent Smith home for a 6-1 Jacksonville lead, and Traywick scored shortly after on a Flowers single to center field.

Flowers stole second base with Havard at the plate. Havard eventually walked, and he and Flowers stole third and second on a double steal. McMunn then hammered a double off the top of the high fence in left field, which drove in Flowers and Havard for a 9-1 Gwatney Chevrolet lead.

Two batters later, Sample grounded out to first base for the first out of the inning, but the contact allowed McMunn to score for the 10-1 Jacksonville lead. A fly out to shallow right field that led to a 4-2 double play ended the inning.

The rain continued to pour in the fourth inning, and after Cabot’s at-bat, the game was called.

Jacksonville finished the night with seven hits and committed no errors in the field. Flowers led the way with two hits. McMunn, Hickingbotham, Sample, Whitmore and Smith accounted for Gwatney’s other five hits.