Saturday, May 11, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Devils’ bats silent in loss to Harrison

Leader sports editor

NETTLETON – The Jacksonville Red Devils knew they were up against a Division I pitcher and the odds on favorite to win the class 5A state title, but it didn’t expect to get no-hit, commit six errors and lose 9-0. But that’s what happened Thursday evening in Nettleton, as the West conference No. 1 seed Harrison hammered the Red Devils in the first round of the class 5A state baseball tournament.

Jacksonville ace pitcher Derek St. Clair started very well, getting three upand three down in the first inning, but began to struggle to keep his pitches down, and the hard-hitting Goblins gobbled up the waist-high strikes.

Jacksonville’s defense didn’t help their struggling hurler. Only four of Harrison’s runs were earned, the rest were the result of the Red Devils’ errors.

The Goblins got just four hits off St. Clair during his three innings on the mound, but they were all timely hits.

After the quick first inning, St. Clair started the second inning by hitting the first two batters. Harrison’s Hunter Marshall then reached on a bunt single that left the bases loaded though the ball had yet to get past the pitcher’s mound.

Seven-hole hitter Logan Murray then doubled to right field to score two runs. Cooper King then popped up behind second base, but shortstop Blake Perry dropped it, allowing another run to score and leaving a runner at third base.

Leadoff hitter Jenner Jones then drove a fly ball to centerfield that was caught by Courtland McDonald, but the shot was deep enough to score the runner.

Nathan Cane then hit a swinging bunt down the third base line. St. Clair fielded it, but his throw to first was high, allowing Murray to score and giving Harrison a 4-0 lead.

With one out in the third inning, Harrison five-hole hitter Bryce Weidrick drilled a shot over the fence in left field to make it 5-0. Jacksonville second baseman Ryan Mallison them committed an error to put a runner on base.

That’s when Logan Murray sent another one out to left field that made it 7-0. Jones led off the fourth inning with a single off Perry, who took over for St. Clair. After a sacrifice bunt by Cane, a throwing error by Kaleb Reeves at third base left everyone safe. That set up a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Huskey to make it 8-0.

The Goblins’ final run came in the bottom of the sixth and was aided by two more errors. Jones reached on an error at shortstop by St. Clair. Two batters later, starting pitcher Daltan Lovell reached on another error by Reeves. Two batters after that with two outs, Weidrick singled to score Jones and set the final margin.

Jacksonville had just three base runners the entire game. Perry, Reeves and Greg Jones each drew walks.

The Red Devils weren’t overwhelmed by Lovell, who has signed to play college baseball at Arkansas State University, only striking out five times. But Lovell and two relievers held the Devils hitless through seven innings.

Jacksonville finishes the season with a 12-15 record.

Other first-round matchups saw South four seed Magnolia upset East champion Greene County Tech 3-2 in nine innings. Little Rock Christian Academy slammed Greenbrier 9-1.

Defending state champion White Hall shut out Beebe 6-0. Sylvan Hills lost 4-3 in dramatic fashion to Vilonia. Wynne toppled South champion Watson Chapel 11-6 in another 4 over 1 upset. South three seed Hot Springs Lakeside upset tournament host and East No. 2 Nettleton 6-4, and Pulaski Academy closed the first round with a 13-4 win over Alma.