Friday, July 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Searcy rolls past Jacksonville Junior

Leader sportswriter

Searcy’s Junior Amer-ican Legion team gave Jacksonville’s Gwatney Chev-rolet Junior team a lot of trouble in the final three innings of their Tuesday night game at Dupree Park, as Searcy scored six runs in the third inning before adding four more in the last two to leave Jacksonville with a 10-1 win over the Chevy Boys.

Jacksonville scored its first and only run in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Kameron Whitmore singled to start the inning, but Searcy starting pitcher Austin Williams struck out the next two batters. Cleanup hitter Quentin Stallard came through, though, with a two-out single that drove in Whitmore for a 1-0 Jacksonville lead.

The game stayed at 1-0 until the third inning, and that’s when Searcy took control. Searcy nine-hole hitter Easton Reaper walked to start the inning, and leadoff hitter Sam Lane also drew a walk the following at-bat. Williams then drove in a run with a single before three-hole hitter Gavin Barnett was hit by a pitch.

Three of the next four batters walked before Bryce Woods grounded out to third base for the final out of the inning. Before that, though, two more runs scored to give Searcy a 6-1 lead after three.

The visitors added three more runs to their side of the board their next at-bat. A one-out single by Lane got things started for Searcy in the top of the fourth, and Williams drove him in with a double. Barnett then hit into a fielder’s choice at third, but an error on the play left everyone safe.

Williams scored the eighth Searcy run and Barnett scored the final run of the inning to put the visitors up 9-1.

After another scoreless inning by Jacksonville, Searcy added its final run of the night in the top of the fifth. Bradley Chalk led off the inning with a single to center field, and he stole second base with Ethan Whitworth at the plate.

Whitworth eventually walked, and Chalk advanced to third base on Whitworth’s ball four because of a passed ball, putting runners at the corners for Searcy. Paxton Hitchings was next up for Searcy, and with him at the plate, Chalk scored the 10th and final run on an errant pickoff play at first base.

Whitworth advanced to second on the error, and Hitchings eventually walked to put runners at first and second with no outs. Jacksonville’s Peyton Williams took over pitching duties immediately after, and he picked off Whitworth at second base with a nice move and perfect low throw near the bag for the first out of the inning.

Lane and Austin Williams both walked, though, loading the bases with one out. But, Barnett grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the fifth. Jacksonville, however, went three up, three down in the bottom half of the inning, with Austin Williams ending the game with a pair of strikeouts.

Even though it was a lopsided win, Searcy only had four hits, but it was twice as many as Jacksonville had. The big difference was that Searcy had 10 batters reach base via walk and one batter reach base on a hit-by-pitch. Conversely, Austin Williams gave up zero walks.

Searcy’s winning pitcher also led all batters with two hits. Whitmore and Stallard had Jacksonville’s two hits, both of which came in the first inning.