Leader Blues

Friday, June 20, 2008

SPORTS>> Gwatney sweeps

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Both Maumelle rallies were furious, but in the end, they were each a run short.

Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet completed a home sweep over the Bulldogs in junior and senior Legion play at Dupree Park on Thursday night.

The junior Chevy boys held off Maumelle for a 5-4 win, while the senior squad had to bring in pitching ace Clayton Fenton during the final inning to secure an 8-7 win.

Fenton recorded a strikeout with the tying run at third base to seal the deal.

There was no shortage of big plays for either team in the offensively-charged finale on Thursday. The game was tied 2-2 before Jacksonville established momentum in the fourth inning.

That momentum did not last, however, as the Bulldogs made up two runs of an 8-5 deficit, and were threatening to tie with a runner at third base before Fenton was able to shut them down.

A pitcher’s duel it was not. Gwatney started the game with Michael Harmon on the hill, who gave way to Stephen Swaggerty in the top of the fourth inning. Swaggerty threw three innings of shutout baseball, but was pulled for Fenton after giving up a double to start the seventh inning.

Fenton, who took a tough loss in Cabot earlier in the week after throwing an outstanding game, forced a pop-up against the first batter he faced, and then struck out Maumelle’s Stracener on a full count to retire the first two batters. But a fielding error allowed a run to score to cut the lead to 8-6.

Another double from the seven-hole hitter narrowed the lead to one, and the runner reached third on a passed ball. Another full-count added to the drama, but Fenton came up with another big strikeout to end the contest.

Maumelle took the initial lead with a two-run effort in the top of the first, but Gwatney leadoff man Adam Ussery scored on a passed ball, and an infield single by Daniel Henard scored Patrick Castleberry to tie it.

A double by the Bulldogs in the top of the second made it 4-2, but RBI doubles by Matt McAnally andCastleberry for Gwatney in the bottom of the second tied it up once more.

Starting Gwatney pitcher Harmon broke the two-run pattern by Maumelle in the top of the third, but the Bulldogs did plate one to go up 5-4. That went unanswered until the bottom of the fourth, when Ussery drove in Tyler Wisdom courtesy of a Maumelle error to tie, and Cameron Hood singled to drive in the go-ahead run.

While relief pitcher Swaggerty was holding off the Bulldog bats in the middle of the game, the Chevy boys added runs in the fifth and sixth innings to extend their lead. Ussery came up with another big hit in the bottom of the fifth with a double that scored Wisdom, and a sacrifice fly by Henard in the sixth allowed Castleberry to tag up at third and make it 8-5.

Castleberry was 2 of 3 with a RBI, and Wisdom also finished 2 of 3. Swaggerty took the win at the mound for Jacksonville.

The junior game started out slow, with Jacksonville holding a 1-0 lead through the first two innings until the Bulldogs answered in the top of the third inning. The bottom of the third inning proved to be the clincher for Gwatney, with a double by Castleberry that scored two runs.

Tommy Sanders got the third RBI of the game moments later on a sacrifice fly that scored Daniel Thurman. Relief pitcher Drew Pierce’s insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI single by Bill Boullon ended up being much needed.

Maumelle made up one run in the fifth, and scored two more in the top of the seventh against new pitcher Daniel Thurman, and had the go-ahead run on the bag before a pop-up saved the win.

Terrell Brown was 2 of 3 for Gwatney, with Jared Toney taking the win on the mound.

BRYANT 20, GWATNEY 6

Scoring eight of their first nine batters was only the tip of the iceberg for the Bryant Blacksox on Wednesday in a 20-6 rout over Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet at Dupree Park in American Legion senior play.

The Chevy boys ended up scattering runs in the five-inning contest, but starting pitcher Brian Thurman and reliever Matt McAnally gave up 13 hits and five walks in the first two frames.

Six of those hits by Bryant came in the top of the first against Thurman, and a pair of home runs in the top of the second inning off of McAnally put the Blacksox at 18 runs, and the game completely out of reach for Jacksonville.

Gwatney did plate its first batter. Adam Ussery led off the game with a double into center, and scored when cleanup hitter Patrick Castleberry singled.

Thurman added a run in the bottom of the third inning when he doubled and came in on Cameron Hood’s sacrifice fly.

Jacksonville needed seven runs to avoid the run-rule in the bottom of the fifth, but fell five short. Hood doubled and was driven in by Daniel Henard, who then came in off a double by Jared Toney. That cut the score to 20-6, but it was as far as the Chevy boys made it.

Henard led Gwatney, going 2 of 3 with an RBI and two runs scored. For Bryant, Haydon was 3 of 4 with 2 RBI, and Knight was 2 of 3 with 3 RBI and a home run.