Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SPORTS >> Devils lose two late at Xtra Innings

Leader sportswriter

After a good start, Jacksonville suffered a bad ending in the Xtra Innings baseball tournament over spring break. The Red Devils beat Springdale 7-3 to start the event on Thursday, but lost its last two games on Friday and Saturday.

It was a 12-team tournament played over three days at Jonesboro and Nettleton high schools. On Friday Jacksonville blew a seventh-inning lead to lose 8-7 to Camden-Fairview, then lost 5-0 to West Memphis on Saturday.

“Some games we didn’t hit and the game that we hit we made a bunch of mistakes,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said.

Jacksonville entered the seventh inning of Friday’s game against the Cardinals trailing 6-3 and began to put together a rally. After one run had scored. Derek St. Clair and Kaleb Reeves reached base with two outs, bringing cleanup hitter Jesse Harbin to the plate. Harbin cranked a shot over the fence in left centerfield to give the Red Devils a 7-6 lead.

It was a short-lived lead.

Camden came to bat, and its first two batters walked. After one out was recorded, a base hit drove home the tying run. Another hit scored Camden’s eighth run and ended the game.

Jacksonville dug itself a hole early on, giving up five runs in the first inning to the Cardinals.

“It was mostly mental errors and not so much physical errors,” Burrows said of the sloppy first-inning. “Things like not being in the right cut off spot, not knowing where to go with the ball. We’re a young team and we’re going to make mistakes, but we should’ve played better than that. We just gave it right to them.”

Jacksonville had little chance against West Memphis. Blue Devil ace Cody Dauksch took a no hitter into the final inning before Jacksonville’s D’Vone McClure broke it up with one out.

Jacksonville meanwhile, tried to pitch by committee over the last three games. Ace Jesse Harbin got the win against Springdale and freshman No. 2 pitcher Derek St. Clair was on the mound against Wynne. From there, the Red Devils threw every pitcher it had in every game the rest of the tournament.

“We threw everybody,” Burrow said. “We threw James and Andrew Tucker, we threw Derek again, everybody we had available. I didn’t think the pitching was all that bad. We didn’t need to walk the first two in the last inning like we did against Camden. But this is just how we’re going to have to do it. When you’re throwing three ninth-graders, you’re going to take some lumps, but they’re all three going to be pretty good pitchers.”

The 1-3 record in the tournament leaves Jacksonville 4-8 overall and 1-1 in conference play. At Marion last week, Jacksonville split its 6A East opening doubleheader with the Patriots. Jacksonville won game one 3-2 and lost 17-0 in game two.

The Red Devils hosted Mountain Home Tuesday night after The Leader’s deadlines, and will be at home again Friday for a non-conference game against Sylvan Hills.