SPORTS >>Jacksonville whips Colts
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Gwatney Class A baseball team bruised and battered North Little Rock Thursday night at Burns Park to remain undefeated in zone play and improve to 8-7 overall on the season.
The younger Chevy boys pounded out 16 base hits in the 13-7 victory over the hosting Colts.
The big victory didn’t look so much like a Mike Tyson 90-second knockout as much as an Evander Holyfield systematic beatdown.
Jacksonville scored four runs in the first inning, two in the second, two in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth inning. Every time North Little Rock rallied to get within a respectable margin, the Gwatney team answered and usually one-upped its host.
Jacksonville took the lead right away against North Little Rock’s hard-throwing right-hander Cody Gill. Tyler Wisdom led off with a double and scored two batters later on a single by Jason Regnas.
Catcher Caleb Mitchell then singled to drive in Regnas, and Mitchell scored on a two-out double by Daniel Thurman. Thurman then scored on a single by Hayden Simpson to cap off the “He threw hard and we hit him hard,” Jacksonville A coach Travis Lyda said. “When they pulled him and put the soft thrower in, we hit him too. We worked for hours on hitting (Wednesday) and it showed tonight.”
The Colts got one unearned run in the bottom of the first. AJ Williamson led off with a double to left field, and scored on two passed balls. Jacksonville pitcher Clayton Fenton then sat the next three batters down in order to preserve his 4-1 lead.
Williamson’s leadoff hit in the first was the only one given up by Clayton in his three innings on the mound. He finished his outing without giving up an earned run while striking out two and walking one.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s off-ense added two runs to its lead with two outs in the second. A.J. Allen started the two-out rally with a single to left field. Regnas and Mitchell were hit by pitches and Seth Tomboli doubled to left-center to drive in the two runs.
Four consecutive two-out singles by A.J. Allen, Regnas, Mitchell and Tomboli brought in two more runs in the fourth to give Gwatney an 8-1 lead.
North Little Rock trimmed that margin to 8-3 in the bottom of the same frame, but that’s as close as the Colts would get.
Jeffrey Tillman led off the inning with a single to left field and Wisdom was robbed of a base hit when he laced a line drive to centerfield.
Allen singled but was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice grounder by Regnas. Mitchell then doubled to right for his third base hit and third RBI of the game. Mitchell’s courtesy runner Terrell Brown scored on the next at-bat when Tomboli climbed out of a hole and sent an 0-2 pitch into the gap in right centerfield.
That put Jacksonville up 11-3 and drew some more praise from Lyda.
“After that fourth inning I told them I wanted those two runs that we just gift-wrapped for them back,” Lyda said. “They went out and got those two back plus one more.”
North Little Rock got an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 11-4, but Jacksonville got two in the top of the sixth. Simpson was hit by a pitch and Brown walked to start the inning. Tillman moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Wisdom drove them home with a two-RBI single to centerfield.
The Colts rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth off Simson. Drew Hampton took the mound with no outs and the bases juiced and shut down the rally to seal the win.
The win lifted Jacksonville to 8-7 overall and 4-0 against teams inside its zone.
“I’m looking for that number- one seed in the zone tournament because there’s a good chance we could get a bye,” Lyda said. “We played like a team that was falling apart on Tuesday, but after our come-to-Jesus meeting we responded very well. We’ve played well in our zone games and those are the ones that count the most at this point.”
Allen went 3 for 3 with three singles and two runs scored. Tomboli also went 3 for 3, including a double and four RBIs. Mitchell went 3 for 4 with a double and three runs batted in. Regnas went 2 for 3 with an RBI and scored four runs, while Wisdom was 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs.
The Gwatney A team hosted Maumelle last night after Leader deadlines, and will host Morrilton at Dupree Park Monday before taking a week off.