SPORTS >> Chevy Boys fail to hold leads as season ends
There was no real need for Patrick Castleberry’s three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning, but the assembled Jacksonville fans were delighted just the same when he delivered.
Gwatney Chevrolet already held a 9-1 lead over Sylvan Hills heading into the final frame, and the booming shot over the wall in left helped the Chevy Boys close out the first night of the American Legion senior Zone 3 tournament at DeSalvo Stadium with a 12-1 rout to advance in the winner’s bracket.
But Gwatney’s season came to a disappointing end when it lost a five-run lead to Cabot on Sunday, then left the bases loaded in the ninth in an 11-10 loss.
Jacksonville starting pitcher Michael Harmon shut down the Bruins with a complete-game, three-hitter through nine innings, striking out 13 batters while scattering six walks along the way.
A leadoff double by Sylvan Hills centerfielder Ty Van Schoyck, a single by Jordan Spears in the bottom of the sixth inning and a single by Nathan Eller to load the bases an inning later were the only hits the Bruins could muster against Harmon.
Gwatney jumped out to a 1-0 lead after two innings and extended its advantage to 4-0 in the fourth before four runs in the top of the seventh broke the game wide open. Terrell Brown scored on a sacrifice fly by Jared Toney in the eighth to make it 9-1 before Castleberry’s shot in the ninth.
The decisive seventh inning began with a walk to Castleberry from starting Bruins pitcher Hunter Miller, who gave up six hits, six walks and fanned six more through seven innings before being relieved on the hill.
An error allowed Seth Tomboli to reach before Castleberry scored on a double to left by Toney. Jason Regnas doubled and A.J.
Allen’s bunt scored Tomboli. A double by Tyler Wisdom plated Regnas to give Gwatney Chevrolet an 8-0 lead.
Allen scored the first run of the night for Jacksonville in the top of the second inning, reaching after being hit with a pitch and coming home on Brown’s RBI single.
Walks to Caleb Mitchell and Tyler Wisdom set up the next two scores for Gwatney in the top of the fourth inning. Devon
McClure reached on an error to load the bases with only one out.
Brown hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Mitchell, and a single by Castleberry scored Wisdom. McClure came in on the play after an error in the outfield to put Jacksonville up 4-0.
The Optimist Bruins avoided a shut out in the bottom of the seventh inning when Miller hit a fielder’s choice at third to score Michael Maddox.
Gwatney’s only miscue defensively came in the ninth inning, but Harmon finished things off with a strikeout.
Brown was 2 of 4 for Gwatney Chevrolet with two RBI and two runs scored. Castleberry was 2 of 5 with three RBI.
In addition to giving up the large lead to Cabot, Gwatney also surrendered a 7-3 lead in the sixth inning to Russellville, which went on to beat the Chevy Boys 8-7. Russellville belted two home runs in its winning rally. A.J. Allen had a home run for Gwatney.
Gwatney staved off elimination with an 18-8 win over Maumelle after putting up nine runs in the first inning.
Against Centennial Bank on Sunday, Gwatney led 7-2 in the fourth inning, and still held on to an 8-6 lead in the eighth. But errors, walks and doubles by Ty Steele and Sam Bates allowed Cabot to score five runs and take an 11-8 lead into the final inning.
Gwatney scored two to cut the lead to one and had the bases loaded with two outs. But the game — and the Chevy Boys’ season — came to an end on a pop to second.