Friday, April 03, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville defeats NLR

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils got their second win in less than a week against North Little Rock on Wednesday, but win number two was significantly more difficult. After beating the Charging Wildcats 14-2 in the Central Arkansas Invitational last Friday at Lamar Porter Field, Jacksonville had to come from behind at home for an 8-5 victory.

North Little Rock jumped on Jacksonville pitcher Brandon Hawkins in the first inning, picking up four base hits and taking a 2-0 lead, but the Red Devils scored three in the bottom half.

Ryan Mallison started the rally with a one-out single, followed by another single by Caleb McMunn. With two outs, James Tucker singled to score Mallison. Derek St. Clair walked and Brandon Hickingbotham singled to drive in McMunn.

Jacksonville added another run in the bottom of the second after Hawkins sat the Wildcats down in order. D.J. Scott drew a leadoff walk and Laderrious Perry singled to put runners on first and third. Courtland McDonald sacrificed Scott home to give the Red Devils and a 4-2 lead.

Hawkins began to struggle to throw strikes in the top of the fourth, and some timely base hits and one Jacksonville error aided a four-run third inning for North Little Rock. Hickingbotham took the mound in relief and shut down the Wildcats the rest of the way.

“Hickingbotham threw really good,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “It was probably his best outing of the year on the mound. He’s hitting the ball, too. So we’re pretty happy with Hick right now.”

Jacksonville got very little going offensively in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but four runs in the sixth set the final margin and gave Jacksonville the win.

Hickingbotham hit a one-out single to start the game-winning rally. Scott followed with a single and Perry took a pitch off the arm to load the bases. McDonald then doubled to the wall in center field to score Scott and courtesy runner Wesley Williams. Mallison followed that with another double, this one to left field, that scored Perry and McDonald.

McDonald went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs while Mallison went 2 for 3 with a double and two runs batted in. Jacksonville (8-5, 4-0) gets back to conference play with a crucial doubleheader with Sylvan Hills at the Sherwood Sports Complex on Tuesday.