Wednesday, March 29, 2006

SPORTS >> Jacksonville drops third twin-bill

Leader sportswriter

It was another tough conference twin-bill for the Jacksonville Red Devils on Tuesday, as they dropped two games to Jonesboro at Dupree Park. The Golden Hurri-cane took both games by scores of 8-0, with a no-hitter pitched by Jonesboro pitcher Cody Powell in game two. It would make the sixth straight conference game lost by Jacksonville.

“They played like they have 11 seniors on their team, and we played like we’re young,” Jackson-ville coach Larry Burrows said. “Their pitchers made it tough on us. They hit spots and changed speeds. Our young guys have had some playing time; we just have to play better than that.”

Jacksonville’s pitching struggled in the first game. Starting pitcher Cameron Hood was replaced by Jordan Payer in the top of the first inning after Hood walked three straight batters. Payer stayed in until the top of the fifth inning, when Eric Berry stepped in to finish the game from the mound.

A two-run home run from Jonesboro’s Murray Watts gave the Hurricane an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Payer saved further Jonesboro runs, striking out his first batter with the bases loaded to end the top of the inning.

Adam Ussery got the first of only four Jacksonville hits the entire night in the bottom of the second inning with a shot to left field. Jonesboro starting pitcher Watts got one of his total 10 strikeouts against Payer to leave Ussery on base at the end of the inning.

Adrian Baker would be the next Red Devil to hit in the bottom of the fourth inning with an infield shot for a single. Baker did not stay on long, however, as Jonesboro tagged him out while trying to steal second to end the inning.

The top of the fifth inning was very productive for the Hurri-cane, as six Jonesboro runners made it in for scores. After Payer gave up two runs in the inning, Berry took over pitching duties for Jacksonville. Two more hits off Berry would result in four more Jonesboro runs before the end of the session.

A single to right field from Blake Mattison in the bottom of the fifth and a centerfield shot from Hood in the bottom of the sixth inning were the final two hits for Jacksonville in the game.

A pop up from Jake Ussery ended Mattison’s chances for a score in the fifth, while a pop up from Baker and a strikeout on Adam Ussery ended the Red Devils’ chances in the sixth.

Seven walks and an error in the top of the second inning were the only opportunities offensively for Jacksonville in the second game. Starting Hurricane pitcher Powell recorded eight strike outs on his way to throwing the no-hitter.

After a single score in the bottom of the first and two runs in the bottom of the second, Jonesboro added more runs in the third and fourth innings to put the game out of reach for Jacksonville.

The loss gives Jacksonville a record of 5-8 overall and 0-6 in the AAAAA-East conference.
The Red Devils will face Sylvan Hills in a conference doubleheader next Tuesday in Sher-wood after taking the remainder of this week off for spring break.