Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SPORTS >> Red Devils take loss, move forward

Jacksonville’s Jesse Harbin may get the nod to start on the mound Thursday against Mountain Home.


Leader sports editor

The runs came in bunches when Sheridan played host to Jacksonville on Monday, but Sheridan had a bigger bunch.

The Yellowjackets beat the Red Devils 8-6 in a non-conference game, overcoming a 6-0 deficit with a seven-run fourth inning.

“It just sort of snowballed on us,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said.

Jacksonville, of the 6A-East, fell to 17-5 but remained perfect in the conference at 10-0 entering Thursday’s matchup with Mountain Home, also at 10-0. Burrows admitted having that game on his mind Monday as he limited starter Nick Rodriguez to 40 pitches while Mike Lamb threw just nine in a relief appearance.

“With the game Thursday we didn’t want to be in a situation using too much of one pitcher,” Burrows said.

Rodriguez held Sheridan scoreless for three innings, then the Yellowjackets jumped on reliever Noah Sanders (3-1) in their big fourth, and Lamb came on to get the Red Devils out of the inning.

“There’s some things we should have been able to take advantage of that we didn’t,” Burrows said. “The main part is we can’t sit. You get up 6-0 you’ve got to put the hammer down.”

Shortstop Jacob Abrahamson had two hits, including a bases-loaded triple in Jacksonville’s six-run second. But other than that, the Red Devils’ bats were relatively quiet.

“We didn’t have really very many on,” Burrows said. “We went three-up, three-down four times. That’s 12 consecutive outs without somebody on. We had one baserunner, I guess, three other innings.”

There were a few quality at-bats here and there, Burrows said, but not enough.

“Two out of the four three-up, three-down innings that we had, we hit three balls right at them,” Burrows said. “Those are good at-bats, but we also had some where we just sort of gave away some at-bats.”

For example, Abrahamson — who fouled off four pitches before hitting his triple on a 3-2count in the second — fouled off two then singled on a 3-2 count to lead off the seventh only to be stranded as Jacksonville’s next three hitters were retired to end the game.

“Good teams that want to be playing at the end, they can’t be doing that,” Burrows said.

The Red Devils stranded one other leadoff runner, which pretty much accounted for the rest of the offense on the day.

While trying to beat Sheridan, Burrows also wanted to be sure his pitching staff was at full strength for Mountain Home and he was pleased with what Rodriguez accomplished with his 40 pitches.

“I think he gave up one hit and we ended up erasing that on a double-play ball,” Burrows said. “After that we knew we were just going to try to piece together whatever we could do after he got his 40 in, but we led 6-0.”

Most important, Jesse Harbin (6-1, 1.08 ERA) didn’t pitch at all and Lamb (5-1, 1.02 ERA) only threw his nine pitches, meaning both are well rested for Thursday. Burrows is planning to start one or the other against Mountain Home.

“That’s what we’ve been running out there the whole time, with Rodriguez behind them,” Burrows said.

Burrows expects to see some quality pitching out of Mountain Home too.

The Bombers boast senior Cody Woodhouse, an Arkansas State signee who was named junior varsity pitcher of the year at Cordova, Tenn., in 2007 and has been all-conference the past two years since moving to Mountain Home.

Woodhouse was all state as a junior.

“They got two really good arms. A senior that’s going to Jonesboro and then they got a sophomore that moved in,” Burrows said. “They throw three pitches for strikes. They do a good job.

“The little bit I’ve seen of them, they play hard, they play fast. They’re 10-0 for a reason. They play pretty good. We’re going to have to play well.”