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BASEBALL: Sportsman gives rookie manager first Katzer win

by Harold McIlvain | June 3, 2023 at 3:30 a.m.

FORT SMITH -- Shea Hamilton has seen many Katzer American Legion baseball tournament games over the years, the first in 1983. In his first game in the longstanding tournament as a manager, his Fort Smith Sportsman players made sure it was a winning effort.

Fort Smith used clutch two-out hitting in a 7-3 win against Conway to open pool play Friday night at Hunts Park. The offense backed a strong effort on the mound from Aiden Sockey, who pitched seven innings with five strikeouts.

"I honestly didn't think about it from that standpoint," Hamilton said with a smile about winning his first Katzer game as manager. "We are just trying to just get better as a team. Last week we played in a tournament without much practice. This was our first real true game, and they played really, really well."

After two innings, both pitchers settled in nicely and it was scoreless to that point. That's when the Sportsman offense took over.

Jake Craighead and Drew Giacinti at the bottom of the order set the table with back-to-back hits. Blake Dedmon then drew a walk from the leadoff spot, which set up catcher Gannon Shackelford in the cleanup spot. He didn't disappoint.

He delivered a two-out, two-run single to give the Sportsman a 3-0 lead. The offense didn't slow down much after that in the key frame. Luke Adcock and Eli Caldarera then provided RBI hits to build a 5-0 lead after three innings of play. Four of the runs were scored with two outs.

"It was just a 2-0 count and I was looking for something over the plate," Shackelford said of his two-out hit. "I put a good swing on it and found a gap. We really put it all together in that inning. It's been a good summer so far. I'm just trying to do some damage when I get an opportunity."

The Sportsman later added a run in the fourth with an RBI hit from Presley Nichols and another run in the fifth with an RBI from Craighead, who finished the game 3-for-3 and had a leaping catch from second base.

It's been a summer to remember so far from Shackelford, who is from Spiro, Okla. He finished 5 for 11 with three doubles and five RBI in last week's tournament.

"Gannon was one of our hotter hitters from last week, and he kept it going in this one," Hamilton said. "He had some great at-bats and was really clutch for us. He is really good behind the plate and he threw a guy out during a rally. He does it all and just continues to have a great summer."

The run support was plentiful for Sockey, who attacked the strike zone early and often to pick up the win in his complete-game effort.

"I just went out there wanting to throw strikes and not walk anybody," Sockey said. "That was the plan. I wanted to get ahead and go for a strikeout or groundout. We really exploded on offense. I was glad to get some runs because I thought it might be a low-scoring game."

Sockey, who is from Poteau, Okla., was challenged before the game to get as many outs as he could, and he got all 21 while not issuing a walk and being aggressive to hitters.

"He was really good for us," Hamilton said of Sockey. "His first inning was a good one, but he threw 20 pitches. Last week we only used him for 40 pitches to just get a feel. I told him if he wanted to throw a complete game, I was all for it. But after that first inning, he was going to need to pound the strike zone. That's just what he did. He was phenomenal."

At a glance

Maurice Katzer American Legion Tournament

At Fort Smith

Fridays games

Bryant 5, Russellville 2

Fort Smith 7, Conway 3

Three Rivers 8, Mountain Home 6

Forsgren 8, Texarkana 4

Bartlesville vs. Texarkana, (n.)

Greenwood vs. Sheridan, (n.)

Todays games

at Hunts Park

Texarkana vs Conway, noon

Fort Smith vs. Texarkana, 2:30 p.m.

Bartlesville vs. Conway, 5 p.m.

Fort Smith vs. Bartlesville, 7:30 p.m.

at Forsgren Field

Texarkana vs. Russellville, noon

Forsgren vs. Russellville, 2:30 p.m.

Texarkana vs. Bryant, 5 p.m.

Forsgren vs. Bryant, 7:30 p.m.

at Greenwood High School

Greenwood vs. Three Rivers, noon

Three Rivers vs. Sheridan, 2:30 p.m.

Greenwood vs. Mountain Home, 5 p.m.

Mountain Home vs. Sheridan, 7:30 p.m.


Print Headline: Sockey leads Fort Smith to win


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