Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SPORTS>>Chevy boys win two, lose one

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The North Little Rock Memorial Day American Legion A tournament at Burns Park was a productive one for Gwatney Chevrolet. The Chevy boys took wins over Sheridan and Texarkana on the second and third day of the tournament after dropping their opener to Pine Bluff on Friday night 8-2.

The win over Sheridan on Saturday was a narrow 7-6 decision, but Jacksonville got its runaway win the following day against Texarkana 10-1 in a five-inning, run-ruled finale.

Gwatney got off to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after a triple from Tyler Wisdom at the two-hole slot put the first score in position. A sacrifice grounder to second from Jason Regnas brought Wisdom across the plate for the score, but it would be the bottom of the third before Jacksonville would score again.

When the runs did start to come again, they came almost effortlessly. Eight of the nine batters in the Gwatney lineup came in for scores in the decisive third inning.

The inning started out at the top of the order with Terrell Brown, who singled with a fly to left field. After a triple during his first at-bat, Wisdom flew out for the first out of the third inning, but it would be a long time until out number two would come.

Regnas scored Brown on an RBI single to center, and advanced on an error for Caleb Mitchell. Seth Tombolli had the next RBI for Gwatney when his shot to center scored Regnas to make it 3-0. Jeffery Tillman then loaded the bases by receiving the free trip to first courtesy of a walk by Texarkana.

Shelby Wilcox then grabbed one of the biggest hits of the game with a double to deep left center that cleared the bases of all previous runners and doubled Gwatney’s lead to 6-0. Bryan Thurman followed that with a single to score Wilcox, and Clayton Fenton put a big exclamation point on the inning with a hard smack that sent the ball over the left field wall to score himself and Thurman, giving Jacksonville a 9-0 lead heading into the fourth inning.

A brief moment of confusion led to the only Texarkana score of the afternoon. With runners at first and second, Gwatney tried to turn a double play when their eight-hole hitter Mosbey hit to shortstop. The play was made at second, but Wilcox didn’t get the throw to Regnas at first in time, and the runner at third snuck in for the score.

Gwatney got one more run for good measure in the bottom of the fourth inning on a daring squeeze play by Regnas. Regnas reached after getting hit by a pitch, and stole his way around the diamond. The bases were loaded with only one out as Tillman came up to bat. As Regnas charged the plate, Tillman layed down a perfect sacrifice bunt. Regnas touched the plate before a Texarkana player even touched the ball to set the final margin. Starting Gwatney pitcher Tombolli only needed three outs to claim the win in the top of the fifth inning, and got all of them by pop-ups to right field and second base from the Texarkana batters.

“The left-hander they started out with had us a little confused at times,” Jacksonville coach Travis Lyda said. “He was throwing a lot of outside pitches, and the umpire stayed consistent with his low strike zone. That third inning, we unleashed some frustrations that we’ve had at the plate at some points. A saw a lot of guys doing good all over the place.”

Lyda said his team’s efforts during the weekend were not perfect, but were a big step in the right direction.

“We made a couple of mistakes late in the game against Pine Bluff,” Lyda said. “Last night (Saturday), we had to come back to beat Sheridan. That really jump-started us for today. Today, we came out here and clicked and did the things we needed to do. So, 2-1 overall on the weekend, we made a lot of great strides toward getting where we want to be.” The pair of wins and loss on the weekend gives Jacksonville a season record of 3-1.