Friday, March 16, 2012

SPORTS >> Jacksonville run-rules Falcons

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville’s youth showed early against crosstown foe North Pulaski as the Falcons were the aggressive team early on.

After a slow start, the Red Devils got back into the flow of the game and eventually took over and beat North Pulaski 13-3 Thursday at Hickingbotham Field in Jacksonville.

University of Arkansas signee D’Vone McClure has taken on more of the workload in his senior season, as the centerfielder and future Razorback is now a regular on the mound.

McClure pitched all five innings and got the win, but struggled in the first inning as North Pulaski’s top of the order did damage early. Alex Broadwell got things going for the Falcons with a leadoff single to start the game. Broadwell then stole second, and after a bunt single that led to two throwing errors on the same play, Broadwell easily crossed the plate. Another run was added in the inning to give North Pulaski the first two runs of the game.

North Pulaski (2-6) was very active on the bases, something head coach Jeremy Brown wants to constantly emphasize.

“One thing I try to teach these guys is we want guys to make plays at this level,” Brown said. “At this level, guys aren’t as accurate in the outfield, or as accurate in the infield. So, we’re going to run, we’re going to steal, we’re going to drop bunts, because kids are still learning at this level.”

McClure scored Jacksonville’s only run in the bottom of the first. In the second, the Red Devils put four more runs on the board, and three more in the third. North Pulaski scored its final run in the top of the third after cleanup hitter Austin Allen singled and drove in Broadwell.

After a scoreless fourth inning, McClure began Jacksonville’s scoring rally in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single that brought Will Wright home. Jesse Harbin followed with a line-drive single into right center, sending Tanner Burks across the plate to give the Red Devils double-digit runs.

Freshman outfielder Court-land McDonald hit the ball almost in the exact spot as Harbin did to drive in two more, and David Williams ended the game with an infield single that sent Harbin home to give Jacksonville (3-5) the mercy rule win.

Even though the defending 6A state champions earned the decisive win, head coach John Burrows wasn’t pleased with the slow start.

“We didn’t come out like I told them we needed to come out,” Burrows said. “I knew they (North Pulaski) were going to come out ready, and I tried to explain that to them before the game. But when you’re young, sometimes you have to touch that stove no matter how many times you tell them not to.

“So, we touched it, and then we played a little bit better after that. That’s part of being young. They’re learning a lot of things for the first time, and they’re getting better. I don’t know if we went forward today, but we didn’t move backwards either, I believe. We’re just young and we need to keep working on everything.”

McClure, McDonald and Williams each had two hits for Jacksonville. Harbin had the best night at the plate, going 3-4 with three RBI’s.