Friday, June 17, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney hurler throws one-hitter

Leader sports editor

Monitcello’s American Legion players struggled to get their gloves on the ball, and could barely get their bats on it at all.

The result was an 8-0 victory for Gwatney Chevrolet on Wednesday in the first round of the Wood Bat Classic in Sheridan.

Brandon Hickingbotham was dominant on the mound while Monticello’s defense committed four errors that aided Jacksonville’s win.

Playing as the visiting team, the Senior Jacksonville squad jumped out to an early lead with a pair of unearned runs. With one out, three-hole hitter Caleb McMunn hit into what should’ve been an inning-ending double play after a Mike Havard single. But Monticello botched the relay, leaving McMunn safe.

Hickingbotham then singled to drive in one run, and Payton Traywick doubled to score Hickingbotham for a 2-0 lead.

Gwatney Chevrolet added another unearned run in the second after Jordan Wickersham led off with a fly ball to right field that Monticello flubbed. After two groundouts, Tyson Flowers’ grounder to third was also mishandled, allowing Wickersham to score the game’s third run.

Jacksonville went down in order in the third, but Wickersham got one base again in the fourth, this time by drawing a one-out walk. He stole second base and Caleb Smith singled for the RBI that made the score 4-0.

After a scoreless fourth, Jacksonville had its biggest inning, scoring four runs in the sixth.

The rally started with Monticello’s fourth and final error. Quentin Stallard’s one-out grounder to second base was mishandled.

Flowers drew a walk, and both runners scored on a base hit by Havard. McMunn then walked on four pitches and both runners moved around the bases on passed balls and wild pitches.

The Chevy Boys finished with five base hits. Two were by Havard, who also had two RBIs, while Hickingbotham, Traywick and Smith got one hit apiece.

Hickingbotham went the distance on the mound for Jacksonville for a one-hitter. He struck out five of the first seven batters he faced and finished with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Monticello had base runners in just two innings, the first and fourth. After an error put the first Monticello batter of the game on base, Hickingbotham picked him off at second.

The first nine batters went down in order before leadoff hitter Cade Clemons got a base hit to start the fourth.

A strikeout and groundout back to the mound followed before Hickingbotham walked the next batter to put runners on the corners with two outs.

He then fanned C.J. Lindsey to get out of the only jam of the game. The next nine batters went down in order to close out the phenomenal effort on the mound.