SPORTS >> Gwatney A team goes unbeaten at Memorial
Leader sports writer
IN SHORT: The Jacksonville Class A American Legion team went 2-0-1 at North Little Rock’s Memorial Day tournament.
It was a successful tourney for Gwatney Chevrolet in this year’s Memorial Day single-A American Legion tournament at Vince De Salvo Stadium in Burns Park. The Chevy boys took wins over Vilonia and Searcy, and tied with Fayetteville in the Saturday night game to earn the No. 2 seed in Monday’s rained-out finals.
Jacksonville started the tournament Friday night with a 9-3 win over Vilonia. Vilonia took the early lead scoring two runs in the first inning.
Gwatney’s first run of the game came off an unassisted run from Shane Graham. Graham reached with a base on balls, and stole his way to third base before scoring off a wild pitch. Vilonia held on to a 2-1 lead until the fifth inning, when Jacksonville’s offense came to life.
Darius Christopher started things off for Gwatney in the inning by reaching with an error, and scored on a single RBI from Travis Twitty. Another fielding error allowed Shane Graham to reach first. Graham would score on a passed ball, before Cameron Hood and Adrian Baker added scores after both being walked.
Vilonia added its final run in the sixth inning, but Jacksonville answered with two more runs from McMunn and Twitty in the sixth to secure the win.
Saturday’s late game with Fayetteville was the closest Gwatney came to a loss in the entire tournament, but time was called at nearly 1 a.m. with the score tied at four runs apiece. Fayetteville had also tied with North Little Rock 5-5 earlier in the evening.
Jacksonville’s most dominant performance in the tourney came in the Sunday game against the Searcy B & B Oil team. Gwatney took the win 8-2, with a fielding error allowing the only two Searcy runs of the game.
Cameron Hood took the win for Gwatney, going the entire six innings on the mound. Hood allowed two hits and walked three batters while striking out five.
Adam Ussery scored first for Jacksonville in the top of the first. Ussery was walked by starting Searcy pitcher Chad Cates, and stole his way to third before scoring on a passed ball.
Cates struggled on the mound for Searcy, walking three of the first four Jacksonville batters in the top of the third inning. Ussery, Hood and Adrian Baker all received the free pass to first, loading the bases for Jacksonville with only one out. A sacrifice fly from Twitty allowed Ussery to tag up for his second run of the evening, giving Gwatney a 2-0 lead after three innings.
Hood sent B & B Oil three and out in the bottom of the third, and Jacksonville then took to the plate for the game-sealer in the top of the fourth.
Gwatney once again loaded the bases on Cates to start the inning. A ground-rule double from Hood over the centerfield wall scored Clayton Fenton and Christopher. Searcy then finally put Cates out of his misery, sending Jordan Roberson in as relief pitcher.
A fielding error by shortstop Roger Glaude on a grounder from Baker scored Shane Graham and Hood for a 6-0 lead.
Hood’s hopes for a shut out were dashed in the bottom of the fifth inning, when a hard toss from Hood to first baseman Baker for the third out was missed, scoring Kendall Chasteen and Jason Jennings.
Jennings was the third Searcy pitcher to throw to start the sixth inning, and gave up two runs. Hood got his third RBI of the game with another double to score Ussery once again, before scoring himself on a passed ball that would have been a strikeout on Josh Graham. Graham made it all the way to second on the mishap, as Hood’s run set the final margin in the contest.
Jacksonville and North Little Rock both ended bracket-A play with two wins and a tie for the best records of the tourney, but the Colts received the No. 1 seed by allowing less runs than Gwatney in their three games to earn the tiebreaker. It was all for naught, however, as the Memorial Day rains forced the cancellation of the finals.
Jacksonville’s record now stands at 3-1-1 after week one.