BENTON – Benton McClendon Appliances rallied late and held on to win 11-9 against Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet on Bill Perry Field at Bernard Holland Park on Saturday.
“We just fought through,” Benton Coach Brandon Wake said. “We just talked to them and told them we have seen this pitcher twice now and it’s time to go to work. I’d like to improve on getting ahead in the count. We’re going to work on [it].”
The visitors from Jacksonville opened up the scoring in the first. A sacrifice fly and two errors from Benton allowed Gwatney to take an early 3-0 lead. McClendon fought back and tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. Back-to-back singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for Benton with nobody out. Catcher Clay Holicer hit an RBI single to centerfield to cut the lead to 3-1. Second baseman Hunter Wray also added an RBI single and an RBI groundout from third baseman Wesley Ramsey tied the game at 3-3.
Benton took their first lead in the bottom half of the next inning. A walk and a sacrifice bunt was followed by an RBI triple from centerfielder Tyler Lewis to give Benton the 4-3 lead. The lead was short-lived however, as Jacksonville reclaimed it with two runs in the third inning.
Both teams went scoreless through the fourth inning and Benton would rally to take the lead in the fifth inning. First baseman Trey Bishop started the inning with a double to centerfield. A single by Holicer put runners on the corners for Benton. An RBI bunt single from Wray tied the game at 5-5. After a sac bunt put runners at second and third with one out, left fielder Shawn Beesley came through with an RBI single to give Benton a 6-5 lead. An error and a wild pitch allowed two more runs to score and Lewis gave Benton some breathing room with a 2-RBI single to increase the lead to 10-5.
Jacksonville responded with four runs in the sixth inning, but would not get any closer as Benton added an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning on a sac fly from Ramsey to make the score 11-9. McClendon used solid pitching and defense in the last inning to preserve the win.
Beesley earned the win pitching two and one-third innings while allowing four runs (three earned) on one hit with four walks and a strikeout. Jack James earned the save going one and two-third innings allowing no runs on one hit with a walk and no strikeouts. Starting pitcher James Tucker received a no-decision after pitching three innings while allowing four runs (all earned) on five hits with a walk and no strikeouts.
Benton was led at the plate by Lewis who finished a perfect 4 for 4 with a three RBI and a run scored. Wray added a 2 for 2 performance with two RBI and a run scored. Gwatney was led by Blake Perry who finished 1 for 3 with two RBI.
The McClendon’s (9-14) also defeated Sheridan on Sunday by the score of 2-1 to win their second in a row after being shut out the previous two games, and outscored 28-3 the previous three. Benton was down 1-0 until the top of the sixth when Holicer reached on an error on the shortstop and would tie the game on Tyler Turbyfill’s double. Lewis would reach on a one-out walk in the top of the seventh and would later score on a wild pitch to take the one-run lead.
Holicer went 3 for 4, Bishop went 2 for 4, and Lewis and Turbyfill each went 1 for 3 with Turbyfill supplying the lone RBI. Wray pitched the complete game for the win giving up just the one run.
The McClendon’s play Lakeside today at 6 p.m. at Bernard Holland Park.