Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils earn a win over Cabot

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville baseball team got a late-scheduled road win over Cabot Friday, beating the interstate rival 7-2 in a nonconference matchup at Brian Wade Conrade Memorial Field.

Jacksonville pitcher James Tucker threw six innings for the Red Devils. The Panthers got seven base hits off Tucker, including at least one in every inning but the sixth, but failed to take advantage of some prime opportunities.

Tucker, who has made a habit of working out of trouble, did so several times on Friday.

Jacksonville got a leadoff double on the game’s first pitch from Courtland McDonald to start the game, but didn’t scratch again off Cabot pitcher Gavin Tillery until the third inning. Tillery retired seven-straight batters after the opening pitch, but ran into trouble in the third when he began to struggle to throw strikes early in at-bats.

Nine-hole hitter Deaundray Harris got a one-out single to the gap in right-center on a 2-0 pitch. The base hit started a string of five-straight batters getting on base. McDonald followed with another first-pitch single before Brandon Hickingbotham was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kaleb Reeves then singled on a 1-0 pitch for two RBIs and cleanup hitter Greg Jones doubled on a 1-0 pitch to drive in two more runs and give the visiting team a 4-0 lead.

Tillery walked Ryan Mallison with two outs to put runners on the corners, but got Derek St. Clair to fly out to left field to get out of the jam.

The Panthers posted a run in the bottom of the fourth. Tristan Bulice and Coleman McAtee got back-to-back, one-out singles before Tillery hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored Bulice.

Jacksonville then made it 7-1 with a three-run rally in the top of the fifth inning. Reeves started the rally with a single. He stole second base and reached third on a passed ball. With one out, Tucker singled to score Reeves and made it to second on another passed ball. Tillery got Mallison to ground out to shortstop to end his night with two outs in the fifth inning.

Sophomore pitcher Chase Kyzer took the mound for the Panthers and gave up back-to-back singles to St. Clair and Blake Perry that made it 7-1.

Kyzer gave up a leadoff double to McDonald to start the sixth inning, but settled in and retired the next three batters in order.

Cabot appeared to be in business in the bottom of the fifth inning when it loaded the bases with no outs. Denver Mullins and Grayson Cole got singles to start the inning and Tucker walked leadoff hitter Lee Sullivan. Adam Hicks then hit into a 4-6-3 double play that scored Mullins and Riley Knudsen grounded to shortstop for the third out.

Tucker allowed eight hits and two earned runs, recorded only two strikeouts but issued no walks for the win.

Tillery also gave up eight hits in five and two-thirds innings. He gave up six earned runs while walking one, hitting one and striking out none.

Kyzer gave up three hits and one earned run while striking out one in one and a third innings.

Knudsen pitched the last inning for Cabot and struck out the side in order.

The leadoff hitters did most of the damage for both teams. Sullivan led Cabot offensively with two base hits while six others picked up one each.

McDonald went 3 for 4 with two doubles for Jacksonville. Reeves and Perry also got two base hits apiece for the Red Devils.

Cabot traveled to West Memphis for a 7A/6A East matchup on Tuesday. Jacksonville plays host to 5A-Central foe Little Rock Christian Academy on Thursday. Look for details of those important doubleheaders in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.