Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Titans on the mark in victory over GCT

Leader sports editor

In its most recent outing, the Jacksonville baseball team picked up a quality nonconference win at Dupree Park on Thursday. The Titans fell behind early, but got a solid relief effort from Jordan Wickersham on the mound, and came back to beat Greene County Tech 6-3.

Freshman starting pitcher Kyle Williams suffered some uncharacteristic struggle with control in the early going, but got two huge strikeouts to get out of a serious jam in thefirst inning. Tech opened with a base hit and a walk before an error at first base aided the Eagles’ first run of the game.

Another base hit drove in the second run. After one base runner was caught stealing by catcher Kameron Whitmore, Williams fanned Drew Mullins and Bo Carter to end the top of the first inning.

Jacksonville went down in order in the first inning, and Williams walked three of the first four batters of the second before being replaced by Wickersham. Inheriting loaded bases and one out, Wickersham got a line drive to shallow right field and a groundout to first base to thwart the threat.

The Titans took the lead in the bottom of the second. Caden Sample drew a leadoff walk and Jayden Loving got a one-out base hit to put two runners on for Joe Cummings. He singled to drive in a run before Quentin Stallard walked to the load the bases. Gabe Helsley struck out, but Whitmore singled for two RBIs to put the Titans up 3-2.

Tech put two on with no outs in the top of the third with a walk and a base hit, but a groundout and a strikeout followed. Wickersham then walked Zachary Duty to load the bases before striking out Caiden McFadden to get out of yet another jam.

In the bottom of the third, Trent Toney got a leadoff single. He moved to third base on groundouts by Sample and Wickersham, and scored on a wild pitch during Loving’s at-bat.

A leadoff walk by Cummings started the bottom of the fourth for Jacksonville. That was followed three batters later with a two-out Eagle error that made it 5-2.

GCT’s Landon Johnson smacked a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left field to start the fifth inning, but Wickersham got a groundout and back-to-back Ks to end any threat of a rally.

Jacksonville set the final margin with a one-out base hit by Stallard, and a two-out RBI base hit by Whitmore.

The senior back catcher went 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Titans. Wickersham pitched 5 2/3 innings. He gave up just two hits, three walks and one earned run while striking out nine.

“That’s a good win,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “We played well. Wickersham was awesome. They threw their best at us and we hit it. We only had six base hits, but we put the ball in play.”

Mullins took the loss on the mound for the Eagles.

Jacksonville (12-11, 6-6) played its last conference series of the season on Tuesday at Little Rock Christian Academy. Details of that game will be in Saturday’s Leader, but it had no impact on the Titans’ postseason status.

The meeting to determine seeding for the 6A-East Conference tournament was held Saturday. Jacksonville will be the four seed and host Pine Bluff at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Dupree Park.