Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SPORTS >> Red Devils drop two to LRCA

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils’ winning streak ended at 14 on Friday, and then became a two-game losing streak with a disappointing doubleheader loss to Little Rock Christian Academy. The Warriors came to Dupree Park and left with wins of 1-0 in the first game, and 8-7 in 12 innings.

Jacksonville scored all seven of its run in the sixth inning of game two, going scoreless the other 18 innings of play.

“The crazy thing is, all season long we’ve killed pitching coming in at that speed we were seeing in game two,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “Eighty, 82 miles per hour, we’ve hit that all season long. I don’t know what happened or why we could hit it in one inning but not the other 11.”

The seven runs gave Jacksonville a 7-4 lead. Errors in the outfield had already given Little Rock Christian Academy two unearned runs of the four scored up to that point.

Another error in the outfield in the bottom of the seventh allowed two more unearned runs to score and sent the game into extra innings.

“That’s the other thing,” Burrows said. “I don’t know if we’ve made an error in the outfield all year, and then we make three in one game.”

The most disappointing thing about the loss is that it likely cost the Red Devils any chance of getting a No. 1 seed in the upcoming state tournament that they will host at Dupree Park.

Jacksonville and LRCA are now tied for first place in the 5A-Central Conference, but the Warriors have played all the other top teams in the conference, meaning the best Jacksonville can hope for is a co-championship. Since LRCA swept their games with Jacksonville, it will get the top seed in the tournament.

Jacksonville also still has to play Pulaski Academy in a doubleheader next week, and could still finish third or fourth.

The Warriors scored the only run of game one in the top of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Ryan Panyard hit a leadoff single and three-hole hitter Nate Alberius walked. With two outs, five-hole hitter Austin Ply singled to right-center field to drive in Panyard and both teams went scoreless the rest of the game.

Jacksonville pitcher Derek St. Clair gave up just one more hit the rest of the game and the Warriors never seriously threatened to score again.

Jacksonville had a prime opportunity to score in the bottom of the second. With one out, Ryan Mallison and St. Clair got consecutive hits. After a strikeout, Deaundray Harris singled to right field, but Mallison was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Jacksonville had another chance to score in the bottom of the seventh when Harris and Laderrious Perry got consecutive two-out singles, but Brandon Hickingbotham lined out to first base to end the game.

St. Clair went the distance, giving up three base hits while striking out 10 and walking five. Jacksonville doubled the Warriors base-hit total while striking out nine times and walking once.

LRCA scored one run in each of the second and third innings, then two in the fifth for a 4-0 lead.

Jacksonville finally got things going offensively, putting seven consecutive batters on base with six hits and one walk. All seven came around to score with Blake Perry’s slide home after Laderrious Perry’s single, giving the Red Devils their first lead of the evening at 5-4.

After LRCA tied it in the seventh off relief pitcher Kaleb Reeves, he stayed on the mound the remainder of the game.