Tuesday, July 12, 2011

SPORTS >> Babe Ruth falls twice at Benton

Special to The Leader

The 14-Under Babe Ruth State Tournament came to an early end for Jacksonville Saturday evening in Benton.

Lake Village hit the ball well and took advantage of several errors to send Jacksonville home from the losers bracket, 16-10.

“We kept digging ourselves holes and couldn’t get out of all of them,” said Jacksonville coach Jason Carpenter. “We made way too many errors, but you have to give them credit, that team can hit.”

Jacksonville again began the game as the visitors and took the first lead, but again quickly lost it.

Courtland McDonald was hit by a pitch to lead off the game and moved into scoring position on a single by Donte Harris. A walk to Ryan Mallison loaded the bases, and a fielder’s choice by Laderrious Perry brought home McDonald. A strikeout and groundout stranded two runners.

The bottom of the first was a nightmare for Jacksonville as Lake Village batted around with the first seven batters scoring, taking a 7-1 lead. Five hits and four errors put Jacksonville in the early hole.

Jacksonville showed fight in the second inning with five runs to get right back in the game. Justin Abbot and Peyton Traywick both reached on errors by the shortstop and came around to score after two walks and a hit batter.

Jake Carpenter hit a two-out shot that was too hot for the third baseman, bringing home Harris and Mallison.

Jacksonville kept battling and took the lead in the top of the third after relief pitcher Austin Huhn shut down Lake Village in the bottom of the second. Following a groundout, Huhn helped himself with a double to left and scored on a single by McDonald.

Mallison reached on an error with two outs, but ended the inning getting thrown out at home trying to score from first on a long double by Perry.

“As deep as that was, I thought the cutoff man would try to get the out at second,” Carpenter said. “So I sent Ryan and their guy made a perfect throw home.”

Still, McDonald scored on the play to give Jacksonville an 8-7 lead. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, that lead would again be short-lived.

The heat got to Huhn, who came off the field following three consecutive hits, two wild pitches and a play where he hustled and dove trying to get the runner. Mallison came in to pitch relief, but by the time the inning ended, Lake Village had taken a 12-8 lead.

Both teams went down in order in the fourth inning, including a four-pitch bottom half by Mallison.

Jacksonville made up some ground in the fifth with Justice Austin reaching on a walk, stealing second and later scoring on a balk.

McDonald also walked, was balked to second, but was then surprisingly caught stealing third for a huge second out. Harris and Mallison reached by being hit and walked, and a single by Perry drove in Harris and would have scored McDonald. A grounder to the pitcher ended the inning as Jacksonville pulled closer with the score 12-10.

The final innings didn’t go as well for Jacksonville in its quest for a come-from-behind win.

Lake Village added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, then really made things difficult with three runs in the sixth inning. Jacksonville was held scoreless in its final two at bats.

In two tournaments, Jacksonville won its first game in Lakewood, then lost four consecutive there and in state.

“A couple different breaks and we win every game we’ve played,” said Carpenter. “These guys have got a lot of talent, it just didn’t all come together for us in time. But I’m proud of the way they kept fighting and came back today.”