SPORTS>>Gwatney rallies, defeats Cabot A
Leader sports editor
Jacksonville found itself in another unusual situation early in Sunday’s game against Cabot. The Post 71 team had Jacksonville down for the first time in the tournament. In fact, Cabot had Gwatney on the ropes, holding a 5-0 lead in the second inning.
“They jumped on us with both feet and I knew it was going to be interesting to see how this group would respond to that,” Lyda said. “This wasn’t a case of getting down one or two runs, this was 5-0 and we were playing too tight. I think we got a little nervous until we had us a little meeting over there on the third baseline. We woke up a little bit after that and started playing a little smarter baseball.”
Jacksonville didn’t play smart in the first two innings, especially on offense. Gwatney put runners on base, but two were picked off by pitcher Tyler Sorrells, and one was caught stealing by catcher Ben Wainwright to thwart Jacksonville scoring threats.
Wainwright opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with a long solo home run down the power alley in left field.
“He scared the squirrels with that one,” Lyda said of Wainwright. “He did the same thing to us at our park. He’s a great young ball player.”
Wainwright. “He did the same thing to us at our park. He’s a great young ball player.”
Cabot added four runs in the top of the second inning off Jacksonville starter Stephen Swaggerty. Swaggerty hit Anthony Rye to start the inning and Ken Harness reached on a 3-6 fielder’s choice.
Travis Dorsey walked and Chase Beasley bunted the runners into scoring position. Nine-hole hitter C.J. Jacoby then singled to drive in both runners and give Cabot a 3-0 lead. Leadoff hitter Matt Williams drew a walk, and Cabot turned a bad play into a run during the next at bat.
Swaggerty picked off Williams at first base. Williams didn’t have a chance to get back to first, so he broke for second, which was occupied by Jacoby. Jacksonville first baseman Jason Regnas gave chase on Williams, but then fired off target to third in an attempt to get Jacoby. Jacoby trotted home to make it 4-0, and Jeremy Wilson then singled to score Williams and give Cabot a 5-0 lead.
Wainwright then stepped to the plate and hit a hard grounder down the third baseline, where Gwatney’s Seth Tomboli snagged the ball from the seat of his pants and threw Wainwright out at first to end the rally.
“That was a big play because Swaggerty was in a little bit of trouble,” Lyda said. “He was literally about one pitch away from being pulled, and Tomboli made that play.”
Gwatney got one back in the bottom of the second when A.J. Allen’s fly ball to centerfield was just deep enough to score Caleb Mitchell, who had led off the inning with a walk. Swaggerty then sat Cabot down in order in the third, and Jacksonville’s rally began.
Gwatney got three singles, drew three walks and took advantage of three Cabot errors in the bottom of the third to claim a 6-5 lead.
Tomboli got the big hit of the inning, a bases-loaded, two-out single that scored two runs and kick-started the rally.
Jacksonville got two more base hits and Cabot committed two more errors in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 9-5. Right fielder Clayton Fenton led off with a single to left field. Two batters later Terrell Brown reached on an error. Jason Regnas followed that with a two-RBI single to centerfield. Regnas later scored on the second error of the inning.
Cabot got a run back in the fifth inning. Beasley reached on an error and scored on an RBI base hit by Williams.
Jacksonville answered right back with three more runs in the sixth to set the final margin. Two walks, two more Cabot errors and another RBI base hit by Regnas did the damage for Gwatney.
Tomboli took the mound in the seventh. He got into some trouble right away, giving up a single and a walk with one out, but struck out the next two batters to slam the door on a comeback attempt.
Regnas reached every time up to the plate in the game. He finished 2 for 2 with three RBIs, two runs scored, a walk and was hit once. Jacksonville got just three earned runs in the game. Sorrells went the distance for Cabot, giving up seven base hits while walking eight and striking out five.
Swaggerty threw six innings to get the win. He gave up five earned runs on six hits, four walks and three hit batters.