Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills defeated by Gwatney, 3-2

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet senior American Legion team improved its record to 3-1 Monday night with a very close 3-2 victory over the Sylvan Hills Bruins senior team. Brandon Hawkins pitched the entire game for Jacksonville, excluding the final two outs, in which Brandon Hickingbotham moved over from first to throw. Hawkins had 11 strike outs and allowed only four hits and three walks.

Ray Young went the entire game for the Bruins.
“We played pretty decent, offensively and defensively,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham had to say. “Our pitching was on top of the situation tonight. Being our fourth game, we were pleased with what we did tonight. We were very well pleased. We had some guys step up and do a good job. We’re trying to get the season started. We’re a little short handed on players, but they’re giving good effort, and that’s all I ask for.”

Sylvan Hills went in order in the top of the first.
Gwatney meanwhile scored once in the bottom of the inning for an early 1-0 lead. Trent Toney drew a base on balls, followed by a single to left by Caden Sample. An infield hit up the middle by Brandon Hickingbotham loaded the bases for Tyson Flowers who came through with a RBI single to center field. Young struck out the next two batters to allow only the single run.

Hawkins struck out the side in the top of the second. Jason Neeley had drawn a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and stole third, but was stranded there.
Gwatney picked up another run in the bottom of the frame. Caleb Smith reached on an infield hit to the left side and moved to second on a ground out to the pitcher. Kameron Whitmore was hit by a pitch and both runners moved up on a wild pitch.
Smith then scored on a ground out to first by Toney, making the score 2-0.

After a scoreless third inning, the Bruins got on the scoreboard in the fourth. Ryan Lumpkin singled to left, followed by a hit that found the grass in right field by Nick Fakouri. Hawkins got Lumpkin in a rundown between second and third which eventually resulted in Fakouri being thrown out at first. Neeley got a base hit up the middle to score Lumpkin from second, narrowing the lead to 2-1.

Jacksonville scored another run in the fifth. Sample doubled to deep center field. Flowers was hit by a pitch, Jordan Wickersham reached on a ground ball to the left side of the infield, and the bases were loaded with one out.

Jayden Loving put down a bunt that went for an infield hit and scored Sample for the 3-1 lead.
Both teams went in order in the sixth, bringing us to the top of the seventh. Fakouri led off for Sylvan Hills with a line drive single up the middle. After a fly out to center, Young walked. With runners on first and second, Jacksonville went with the pitching change to Hickingbotham.

Connor Young bunted to move the runners into scoring position with two outs. Fakouri scored when a ball got through the catcher, setting the final margin of 3-2 before a strike out ended the game.

“It was a close one,” said Sylvan Hills coach Matt Presson. “He (Hawkins) had his fast ball. We just couldn’t time it up. There toward the end, we got on it and started getting some guys on. We had one base running mental mistake that I think cost us a run. I thought they competed. They played hard. I wish we had got on that fast ball a little bit more, because we knew it was coming. He’s a good pitcher, threw a great game. They just beat us. Besides that one mental error, it was a good clean ballgame in my opinion.”
Sample and Flowers had two hits each for Gwatney, while Wickersham, Loving, Hickingbotham, and Smith had one.

Fakouri had two hits to lead Sylvan Hills, while Lumpkin and Neeley had one each.