Saturday, May 03, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Devils get best of Arkadelphia

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville baseball team added three wins to its record this week but only had to take the field once. The Red Devils picked up a solid nonconference win over defending class 4A state champion Arkadelphia, beating the Badgers 5-4 Tuesday at Dupree Park.

Their scheduled conference doubleheader with Mills on Thursday was canceled when Mills forfeited due to a shortage of players.

Tuesday’s game was tied at four runs apiece when Jacksonville came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning. James Tucker and Ryan Mallison singled to start the inning and Derek St. Clair bunted to move the runners into scoring position.

With first base open and only one out, Arkadelphia elected to intentionally walk Blake Perry to set up a force at every base and possibly a double play. But nine-hole hitter D.J. Scott singled to center field to drive in the winning run.

“It was a good win,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “They’re a solid team. You got to be to win it all. We played pretty well.”

Arkadelphia has its entire roster back from last year’s championship run, and the two teams played to a 0-0 stalemate through three innings.

The Badgers posted two runs in the top of the fourth before the Red Devils put together a four-run rally in the bottom of the same inning.

It started with consecutive singles by St. Clair and Perry. St. Clair stole second base and Perry’s hit scored him from second. Scott walked but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice by Courtland McDonald. Brandon Hickingbotham walked and Kaleb Reeves hit a two-RBI single to score Perry and McDonald. Jones then singled to score Reeves and give the Red Devils a 4-2 lead.

Arkadelphia added one run in each of the fifth and seventh innings before Scott’s big hit that ended it.

Hickingbotham pitched five and one-third innings, giving up three runs on five base hits. Reeves finished it, giving up one run on three hits. Jacksonville totaled nine base hits and Mallison was the only player in the game with more than one. He finished with two.

Jacksonville is now 19-5 overall and 8-2 in the 5A-Central, while Arkadelphia dropped to 18-4.