Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SPORT STORY >> Red Devil pitching silences Badgers

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils picked up a solid nonconference win on Monday, beating two-time defending Class 4A champion Arkadelphia 5-1 at Dupree Park.

Jacksonville scored two in the first inning, one in the fifth and two in the sixth while giving up just one unearned run in the second inning to earn the win.

Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows was OK with his team’s performance, but not entirely pleased.

“I don’t know, maybe I expect too much from them,” said Burrows. “I mean, we played a good game. We made some mistakes and we put them behind us. That’s what an experienced team is supposed to do.”

Jacksonville got one earned and one unearned run in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Courtland McDonald singled and Ryan Mallison walked to start things off.

McDonald scored when Caleb McMunn’s grounder to third was mishandled. Mallison came on two batters later on an RBI single to left field by James Tucker.

Tucker started on the mound and gave up two base hits in the first inning, including one to leadoff hitter Cutter Jester. Catcher Greg Jones then threw Jester out as he tried to steal second base. Tucker sandwiched another base hit between a strikeout and a 6-4 grounder to end the inning.

The second inning should’ve been a one-two-three inning for Tucker. After getting the first two batters out, an error at shortstop was followed by a triple that pulled the Badgers to within 2-1.

That’s how it stayed until the home half of the fifth inning, when Jacksonville nine-hole hitter Laderrious Perry drew a walk to start things off.

Two batters later, Mallison hit into a fielder’s choice that got Perry thrown out at second for the second out. McMunn then doubled to center field to score Mallison and give the Red Devils a 3-1 lead.

Jacksonville put together a two-out rally in the sixth, starting with a two-out base hit by Brandon Hickingbotham.

D.J. Scott was hit with a 2-1 pitch, and Perry, after falling into a 0-2 hole, worked the count full and fouled off three pitches before taking a pitch in the back to load the bases.

McDonald then singled to left-center field to drive in two runs and set the final margin.

Arkadelphia threatened in the top of the seventh by loading the bases, but relief pitcher Derek St. Clair struck out two batters and Perry made a diving, over-the-head catch of a hard line drive in right field to get out of the jam and preserve the victory.

Burrows singled out Perry and St. Clair for overcoming bad plays and making big ones.

“Perry swung at a bad first pitch and came back with a big at-bat for us,” Burrows said. “St. Clair hit one and walked one, but they moved on to the next pitch. That’s something we talk about all the time. I mean, look, we’re old. We’re a senior team and that’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what it’s supposed to look like from an old team.”

Tucker gave up four hits while striking out four and walking zero in his five innings on the mound. St. Clair threw the last two innings, giving up one hit while striking out five, hitting one and walking one batter.

McDonald was the only player to finish with multiple base hits, going 2 for 4 while Perry reached base in every at-bat, going 1 for 1 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

Jacksonville (16-6, 10-0) plays at Mills on Thursday to resume conference play in the 5A-Central. Arkadelphia dropped to 15-6 and are 9-0 in the 4A-7.