SPORTS >> Chevy boys dominate again over Little Rock
Leader sports writer
IN SHORT: Gwatney Chevrolet struck quickly during its opening game against Little Rock Red at the Wood Bat Classic in Sheridan on Thursday.
SHERIDAN — Gwatney repeated its opening-round success again this year in the Peoples Bank Tall Timber Wood Bat Classic in Sheridan. Last year, the Chevy boys routed Little Rock Red 12-0 in three-innings. This year’s game was even uglier, as Jacksonville handed the post-one AA team a devastating 17-0 loss in two-and-a-half innings.
Gwatney only batted for two innings, but managed to go through its entire lineup twice in the bottom of the first inning. Jacksonville racked up 12 runs off of eight hits and two Little Rock errors in the opening frame, adding five more runs in the bottom of the second to secure the runaway win.
Jacksonville sent Red four-up and three-down to start out the contest, with an error at first base allowing the only runner on. Matt De Salvo tried to advance runner Bradley Silfies with a bunt, but starting Gwatney pitcher Casey Winstead made an excellent play on the ball, scooping it up to make the quick throw to first baseman Kyle West for the third out.
Leadoff Jacksonville batter Josh Mansfield hit into a 6-3 for the first out in the bottom of the second inning. It would be the last Jacksonville out for the next 15 batters.
A single from Neil Hatcher and an E6 for Trey Smith put runners at first and second. A shot to right field from West put Hatcher across the plate for the first run.
Another error scored Smith, and a double for DH Tim Payne brought in West and Zach James for a 4-0 Gwatney lead.
Randy Peeples came away with the biggest hit of the game, a triple to deep right field that drove in Payne. Peeples scored one batter later when Brian Thurman singled to right, making the score 6-0 Jacksonville.
A single from Tyler Uptergrove and a walk for Mansfield loaded the bases and started Gwatney’s second round through the batting lineup. Hatcher followed that with a double that scored two runs for an 8-0 lead.
A change in pitchers for Little Rock did nothing to slow the Chevy boys down. Michael Wenneker relieved Luke Osborn, but Wenneker gave up three walks and two hits during his stint at the mound. A walk for West automatically scored run number nine, and Red made its second pitcher change of the inning, putting starting first baseman Hayden Blair on the mound.
Blair started off by walking Payne to load the bases once again, then walking Peeples to score West. That run gave Jacksonville a commanding 12-0 lead. Blair finally ended the bleeding for Red with a strikeout on Thurman and a pop-up from Uptergrove.
Little Rock got two runners on base in the top of the second, but both were tagged out while trying to steal second. The other out came on a strikeout on Phillip Lay, sending Gwatney back to the plate.
The first three batters were starters; the next four were subs for Jacksonville in the bottom of the second. By the time Mansfield popped out at shortstop to end the inning, Gwatney had scored five more runs off of two hits and one error, and Red made its third pitcher change of the game.
Little Rock needed a miracle in the top of the third to allow the game to continue, a miracle that didn’t come to pass. Red put two runners on with two outs, but catcher Uptergrove snagged a pop-up from Scott Charlene, ending the game under the tourney’s 12-after-three run-rule.
Hatcher was 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs. Thurman was 2 for 3 with and RBI, and Upter-grove was 2 for 3 three with a double and two RBIs.
Winstead got the win, allowing no hits or walks. Little Rock’s only hit of the game came in the top of the third off of relief pitcher Shane Graham.
Jacksonville faced off against Benton in the second round on Friday, and will play Conway in the third round tonight at 7:30 p.m.