Wednesday, May 08, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Devils lose wild one to Warriors

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils accomplished most of what they set out to accomplish Monday in the regular-season finale at Little Rock Christian. They just didn’t win the game. In a nonconference matchup against the 5A Central champion Warriors, Jacksonville got 15 base hits and hit the ball hard, but lost 13-12 after giving up four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Jacksonville found itself down 9-1 after four innings, but began hammering the ball up and down the lineup. The Red Devils scored four runs in the fifth and seven in the sixth inning to take a 12-9 lead, but it disappeared in the bottom of the sixth.

“You play this game to swing the bats,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “We started a little slow but we kept swinging. Both teams are going to go light on their best pitching and we all knew that. So we focused on swinging the bats. As far as that goes I thought we did a great job. We did really good with two strikes, but we left a couple out there that cost us.”

Jacksonville twice had runners on third base with one out, and failed to get the run across the plate. The first was in a scoreless second inning, the last was in the seven-run sixth.

“It’s great we scored seven runs, that doesn’t change the situation,” Burrows said. “When you got a guy on third with one out, you need to get him in.”

D.J. Scott started both of Jacksonville’s rallies. He hit a swinging bunt that turned into a single to start the fifth inning. It was the first of five consecutive singles by the Red Devils. David Williams, Brandon Hickingbotham, Courtland McDonald, Derek St. Clair and Kaleb Reeves each reeled off base hits before Jacksonville recorded an out. Greg Jones got the fourth RBI of the inning with a line-drive out to deep left field.

Scott singled to start the sixth inning when his grounder between shortstop and third base was fielded too deep to throw him out. Williams singled again and Hickingbotham got on when his 4-6 fielder’s choice turned into an error when the shortstop failed to touch the bag.

McDonald and St. Clair got back-to-back singles and another error off Reeves’ bat left everyone safe. Blake Perry recorded the first out with a line drive to centerfield. Jones then singled to the gap for the first two-RBI hit of the game for Jacksonville.

Ryan Mallison then tripled down the right-field line to score two more runs with one out. Scott then popped up to second base and Williams grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

Reeves took the mound for Jacksonville in the bottom of the seventh and struggled to find the strike zone. After three runs and with the game tied at 12, LRCA had runners on the corners with two outs. The Warriors tried the double steal with the runner on first base leaving early.

Reeves stepped off the mound and made the pick off throw, against the call made by Burrows. It resulted in a rundown that led to the runner being out, but the runner at third scored the game-winning run before the out was made.

“That’s just one of those things that’s going to happen when you coach high-school ball,” Burrows said. “The call was, if they tried that, to let him go.”

Jacksonville (12-14) will face Harrison at 5 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the state tournament in Nettleton.