Wednesday, April 06, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Walk-off LHS slam ends rout of Devils

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke baseball team jumped out to an early three-run lead in Friday’s nonconference game against Jacksonville, and the Jackrabbits reeled off eight runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the game early with an 11-1 win over the Red Devils at the Lonoke Ballpark.

Lonoke (7-5, 3-0) scored the game’s first three runs in the bottom of the first inning to lead 3-0. The game remained 3-0 until Jacksonville (5-9, 3-1) scored its only run in the top of the fourth to make it a two-run game.

Lonoke, though, put it away in the bottom of the fifth with eight runs scored, the last four coming on a two-out, walk-off grand slam to left center by Jackrabbit junior  shortstop and University of Arkansas commit Casey Martin.

“I was really proud of our guys,” said Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery. “The last couple of games we just kind of made a lot of mental mistakes and had some things that we’ve had to overcome. We played a good White Hall team (last) Monday that kind of gave us a good thumping.

“We made a lot of mistakes. We made them work early in that game and then they had one huge inning on us like this, and we kind of let things snowball on us. We were battling against Riverview (last) Tuesday – same thing. We jumped on them a little bit and then we kind of just had a couple of mistakes that let them back in the game.

“So I was proud of our guys today for coming ready, getting a good three runs up on the board and playing some good defense behind it.”

Lonoke loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first on an error at third base, a walk and a hit batter. The first run was scored on a Kade Stuart sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Jackrabbits a 1-0 lead.

Stuart’s sac fly was the second out of the inning, but catcher Gabe Rooney and designated hitter Tallon Swint hit back-to-back singles to drive in Lonoke’s next two runs.

In the top of the fourth, Jacksonville catcher Javan Wakefield started things off with a single to left center, but Wakefield went to second base on the same play as the ball got by the Lonoke left fielder.

Kameron Whitmore walked the next at-bat and Tyson Flowers walked two batters later to load the bases with two outs. Leadoff hitter Caleb Smith was then hit by a pitch to send Whitmore home and cut the Lonoke lead to 3-1.

Jacksonville threatened the next two innings, but couldn’t score, and Lonoke put it away in the bottom of the fifth. Martin hit a leadoff double to start the inning, and he advanced to third on a 5-3 groundout by Savonte Rountree.

Stuart hit an infield single to third base the following at-bat, and Rooney followed with a sac bunt that left everyone safe and scored Martin because of an errant throw to first. Stuart scored Lonoke’s fifth run on a wild pitch, and Kameron Cole drove in runs six and seven for the Jackrabbits with a two-out single to left center.

Caleb Horton and winning pitcher Haven Hunter reached base the next two at-bats to load the bases, which brought Martin back to the plate, and with a 2-2 count, Martin sent the next pitch over the fence in left center, which ended the game because of the sportsmanship rule.

Lonoke outhit Jacksonville 8-3. Martin and Cole led the Jackrabbits at the plate. Each went 2 for 3, with Martin adding four RBIs and three runs scored. Hunter, Stuart, Rooney and Swint accounted for Lonoke’s other four hits.

Wakefield, Caleb McMunn and Mike Havard had the Red Devils’ three hits.

Hunter pitched all five innings for Lonoke, finishing with three strikeouts.