SPORTS>> Gwatney AAA team improves to .500
By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor
Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet AAA Legion team improved its record to 4-4 over the weekend with a doubleheader sweep of Sheridan. Shortstop Mitchell Regnas led a set of hot Jacksonville bats, going 4 for 5 at the plate in game one and leading the Chevy boys to a 6-3 victory.
Blake Cochran went the distance on the mound, striking out seven and picking up the win.
“They played pretty good, a few of ‘em hit the ball extremely well,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said.
Three singles got Jacksonville on the board first, but the home team came back to tie the score in the bottom of the same frame.
No one scored in the second, but the two teams traded runs in the third to even the score at 2-2.
A pattern began developing as a scoreless fourth inning was followed by each team collecting one run in the fifth to keep the score knotted at three apiece.
After another scoreless inning, Jacksonville finally put some distance between itself and its host in the seventh.
Gwatney started the inning with two walks. Josh Mansfield then singled in one run.
Back-to-back doubles by Neil Hatcher and Regnas brought in the next two and set the final margin.
Jacksonville picked up 13 hits as a team with Regnas leading the way, but other Jacksonville players turned in nice performances as well.
Outfielder Trey Smith went 3 for 3 while fellow outfielders Walt Winer and Hatcher each got two hits in the win.
Jacksonville only got four hits in a 2-0 game-two victory. Regnas went 2 for 2 in that game and was 6 for 7 at the plate on the day.
The Jacksonville team stayed at .500 Monday with a doubleheader split with Searcy Crain AAA.
Jacksonville took game one 4-1, but fell apart in game two to lose 9-1.
Kyle West got his fifth home run and Neil Hatcher his second to lead Gwatney in the game one victory.
Justin Akin got the win on the mound.
In game two, Jacksonville had a man on second and no outs while holding a 1-0 lead.
That’s when a bunt attempt went bad and the ensuing reactions were worse.
The ball hit the plate, bounced up and hit the batter.
The home plate umpire called the batter out, which drew protests from the Jacksonville dugout.
Hickingbotham and assistant coach Travis Lyda converged on home plate and vehemently argued the call. The umpire tossed Lyda before sending Hickingbotham back to the third base box with a stern warning.
The Jacksonville squad responded negatively to the incident, and began making mistakes that cost the team four unearned runs.
Jacksonville played Cabot AA in a doubleheader last night. Both teams begin play in the Sheridan Wooden Bat Classic Thursday.