SPORTS>> Sims strikes out 18 batters in Bruins’ win over Gwatney
The Sylvan Hills’ defense didn’t do much work on Tuesday night, but that’s because they really didn’t have to. Blain Sims took care of Gwatney Chevrolet batters with a total of 18 strikeouts during an 11-2 win for the Optimist Bruins at Dupree Park. The Chevy boys did manage six hits against Sims during the senior American Legion contest, but second baseman Terrell Brown was the only one to find his way around all the bases for both Jacksonville scores on the night.
Gwatney stayed relatively close until the final frame, when a three-run home run by T.C. Squires put the game out of reach. Squires’ blast over the left field wall followed a RBI double by Matt Rugger that plated Chris Eastham to give the Bruins a 7-2 lead.
Sylvan Hills scattered scores against Gwatney starting pitcher Clayton Fenton during the first six innings. Clint Thornton led off the game with a walk, and advanced on a single by Matt Turpin. Fenton then fanned the next two batters, but a double to left by Jake Chambers drove in Thornton and Turpin to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead after one.
Jacksonville looked poised to match its local rival in the bottom of the first when leadoff batter Adam Ussery singled on Sims’ second offering of the game, but a pair of strikeouts before a walk to Patrick Castleberry, and another K left both runners stranded, starting a trend that helped earn Sims the easy win for his complete-game effort.
Trouble started early on for the Chevy boys, when standout first baseman Jason Regnas went down with an injury duringhis only at-bat to end the first inning.
The Bruins extended their lead in the top of the second with a pair of doubles from Nathan Eller and Thornton.
Chambers added another run to make it 4-0 in the top of the third. He reached on a double, and came in on a fielding error on Rugger’s ground ball.
Gwatney finally got on the board in the bottom of the third inning when Brown doubled to center, then came in on a single by Castleberry. Sylvan Hills wasted no time making that run up and then some in the top of the fourth inning, as Ross Bogard singled to score Thornton, who benefited from another Jacksonville error during his at-bat, and Turpin tagged up on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Eller after reaching on a double to give the Bruins a 6-1 lead.
Brown came away with his second hit of the game to lead off the bottom of the fifth. This one, a double into center, was followed by another double to center by Castleberry to drive him in. That closed the gap to 6-2, but it was as close as the Chevy boys could get.
Garrett Eller began the SH scoring spree in the top of the seventh when he was struck by a pitch. Eastham followed with a single, and a double by Rugger sent Eller in for the first run.
Squires followed with the biggest hit of the game for Sylvan Hills. Nathan Eller walked to set up the final score from there. Eller stole his way to third before coming in on an error at first to set the final margin.
Sims sealed the deal with his final three strikeouts of the night in the bottom of the seventh, but not before Jacksonville gave it one final go with a walk for Matt McAnally and a single by Castleberry.
Chambers was 2 of 3 for the Bruins with two doubles and two RBI. Turpin was 2 of 4 with a double. For Jacksonville, Castleberry was 3 of 3 with two RBI and Brown was 2 of 4 with two runs scored. Sims took the win for Sylvan Hills with 19 strikeouts, six hits allowed, two walks and two earned runs through seven innings.