Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SPORTS >> Jacksonville earns victory on road trip to West Fork

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville got a needed win over the weekend at West Fork. The team makes a near annual trip for a weekend game in northwest Arkansas every year and takes in a Razorback baseball game while there.

This year’s trip went well for the Red Devils, they beat the West Fork Tigers 13-3, invoking the 10-run sportsmanship rule in the sixth inning.

It was the first win for Jacksonville in nearly two weeks, but the most important thing was that the bats were sharper.

“We’re swinging better,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said. “We weren’t seeing the kind of pitching we’ve been seeing, but we were swinging better in practice all week. I thought our preparation for this game was good. We improved last week in practice and it showed on the field in that game.”

Jacksonville got a quick lead with two runs in the top of the first inning. They were held scoreless in the second and West Fork got on the board in the bottom of the second frame.

That set the stage for the turning point of the game, a five-run rally by Jacksonville in the top of the third.

Kaleb Reeves started things off by reaching on a hit-by-pitch and Jesse Harbin walked. Both runners advanced on stolen bases to set up an RBI groundout by Greg Jones. Harbin then scored on a single by Cole Bredenburg and David Williams walked to put runners on first and second base. A passed ball advanced both runners into scoring position, and freshman Derek St. Clair singled to drive in both runners for the third and fourth runs of the inning.

Tanner Burks then singled to put runners on the corners for Razorback signee D’Vone McClure. He doubled to centerfield to score St. Clair and give Jacksonville a 7-1 lead.

Jacksonville’s Blake Perry started on the mound and got the win. He gave up just four hits in four innings. One was a two-run home run in the bottom of the third that made it 7-3, but that’s all West Fork was able to muster.

St. Clair pitched the fifth and sixth innings for Jacksonville, striking out four batters and giving up just one hit in his two innings of relief work.

“We pitch good enough and we get enough defense most of the time to stay in it,” Burrows said. “We just have to get the sticks going a little bit more. We execute pretty well, we just haven’t been able to get anybody on. With the bats the way they are this year, the key is to throw strikes. We’ve done that. I think our hitting improved last week so hopefully we can keep improving and start getting some more wins.”

McClure and Harbin led Jacksonville offensively. Each senior got two hits and one double. Ragan Jones, Burks and St. Clair each had two RBIs in the win.

The Red Devils (7-14, 2-6)will resume conference play on Wednesday when they travel to play a doubleheader against Little Rock Hall.