Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SPORTS>> Gwatney misses several chances

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

SHERIDAN – After a red-hot start to the Sheridan Wooden Bat Classic, the Jacksonville AAA team cooled off considerably the rest of the way.

Jacksonville bludgeoned Little Rock Red 15-0 in the tournament opener, but lost two of three the rest of the way.

The Gwatney squad fell 7-3 to Trumann on Friday, but came back to beat Conway 5-3 on Saturday to advance to bracket play in Sunday.

Against Pine Bluff in the first round of bracket play, Jacksonville turned in its worst performance of the tournament, losing 7-5.

“After that first one, we didn’t hit very well,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hicking-botham said. “We misplayed a few ground ball and we’re just having problems throwing strikes. It wasn’t very pretty overall. We’re getting a few hits and creating opportunities for ourselves, but we’re doing a terrible job of capitalizing on those opportunities.”

Hickingbotham was referring specifically to the Pine Bluff game, when his squad trailed 7-4 heading into the sixth inning. In the sixth and seventh frames, Gwatney loaded the bases with no outs, but managed only one run to set the final margin.

“It takes some work to load the bases with no outs and not score, but we did it two innings in a row,” Hickingbotham said. “We had the opportunity to bust it wide open and got one run.”

The one run came when Brandon Clements walked with the bases loaded in the seventh. That was after a scoreless sixth inning that saw the top of the lineup blow a prime opportunity.

Jacksonville’s seven, eight and nine hitters loaded the bases, but the top of the order could not capitalize.

“The bottom of the lineup did pretty well,” Hickingbotham said. “We had exactly what you want in those innings. We had the bottom of the lineup get on base with the top coming up. We just didn’t do a thing with it. This isn’t the first time it’s happened either. We’re developing a little problem of leaving too many on base. We are not stepping up in prime situations.”

The 2-2 record at Sheridan left Jacksonville with a 7-7 record overall.
The Gwatney boys played Maumelle Tuesday night after Leader deadlines.
They begin play in their own annual Fourth of July Classic Thursday night against Benton at 8 p.m.