Leader Blues

Friday, May 26, 2006

SPORTS >> Gwatney shares opening twin bill

BY JASON KING
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: The Jacksonville class A American Legion team opened the season with a split against Sheridan.

Gwatney Chevrolet split a double header with the Sheridan Yellowjackets to open the A American Legion season Thursday at Dupree Park. The Yellowjackets took game one 7-3 in six innings, but Jack-sonville rallied back in the nightcap to take a 9-3 win.

Gwatney used four different pitchers in the opener, and three different players took to the mound in game two.
“We were trying to pitch all of them tonight,” Jack-sonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “We have four games over the next four days, so we wanted to give everyone a chance to go out there. Everybody did a pretty good job tonight; we still have a lot of time to get better.”

Game one was closely contested until the top of the sixth inning, when Jacksonville let a 3-1 deficit grow to a 7-1 lead by the end of Sheridan’s turn. Gwatney made some of that up in the bottom of the sixth with a pair of runs, but time was called after the inning, giving the Yellowjackets the win.

The Chevy boys looked like a different team in the second game, taking an early 3-0 lead after one inning, and adding five more runs in the second inning to take a commanding 8-0 lead.

While Jacksonville looked a little sluggish towards the end of the opener, it was Sheridan who played flat in game two, allowing Gwatney to score almost at will through the first two innings.

Jacksonville’s first score of the evening came off a solo home run from Brian Thurman in the bottom of the second inning. Thurman jacked it over the left -field wall to tie the game at 1-1. Sheridan added a pair of runs in the fourth inning before taking control of the contest in the sixth.

Of the five different pitchers that took turns during the two games for Jacksonville, Clayton Fenton looked the most polished. During three innings in game one and two innings in game two, Fenton gave up two hits, two walks and struck out six batters. Thurman, Cameron Hood, Jason Regnas and Tommy Sanders also had time at the mound for Gwatney in the twin bill in preparation for this weekend’s Memorial Day tournament at Burns Park.

Jacksonville started the second game off with a vengeance, loading the bases with the first three batters. A fielding error on a shot to left field from Adrian Baker allowed the first run to score, followed by a long fly ball to center from Thurman that scored Shane Graham and Hood. Thurman went for the triple, but got tagged sliding into third for the second out of the inning.

Gwatney loaded the bases once again in the bottom of the second to begin another scoring session. Errors cost Sheridan dearly in the opening innings. A fielding error on a Shane Graham hit scored another run before a double from Hood scored Josh Graham and Adam Ussery. The next run came when Shane Graham made it in off a single to left from Baker, giving Jacksonville a 7-1 lead.

Hood added the final run of the inning off another Yellowjacket error. Thurman struck out for what would have been the second out of the inning, but charged to first after a passed ball on strike three. Instead of trying to make the play at first, Sheridan catcher Austin Davis tried to get the play at third, but overthrew the base, allowing Hood to score.
Ussery scored the final run of the game on a passed ball in the bottom of the fifth, just before time was called for the game to set the final margin at 9-3.

Jacksonville finished game two with nine runs, 10 hits and four errors. Gwatney Chevrolet will be in action this weekend at the Memorial Day tournament at Burns Park. Bracket play began last night, and will run through Monday.