SPORTS >>Devils can't close 'Canes
By JASON KING
A 5-4 loss in eight innings to Jonesboro Tuesday in the first game of a 6A-East Conference doubleheader was a heartbreaker for Jacksonville, but paled in comparison to the 13-3 rout suffered by the Red Devils in the nightcap.
Jacksonville led the second game 3-1 through the first three innings, but after Jonesboro rallied in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead, it was all downhill from there.
It was the Devils who rallied late in the opener, scoring two runs in the top of the seventh inning to erase a 4-2 deficit.
Jacksonville loaded the bases early in the final frame of regulation, and pulled to within one on a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Hood.
Jason Regnas took to the plate following Hood’s RBI, and tied the score with a SAC of his own.
The Red Devils denied the Hurricane a winning run in the bottom of the seventh, but gave up a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to allow yet another close game to slip out of their grasp in the late going.
Seth Tombolli threw a strong game at the mound for Jacksonville, going seven innings before being relieved for the final inning, resulting in a no-decision for the sophomore hurler.
Jacksonville seemed determined to claim the win during the second game, until the Hurricane stepped things up in the fourth inning.
Tommy Sanders took to the mound to start the contest, and pitched impressively through the first three innings.
Caleb Mitchell came away with the biggest offensive play for the Red Devils in the contest with a two-RBI single in the top of the first inning.
Jacksonville added another run in the opening inning for a 3-0 lead, but the bats went silent for the remaining four innings of the run-ruled affair.
Things went south for the Red Devils in a hurry in the bottom of the fourth.
The Hurricane quickly made up the two runs they trailed by at the start of the frame, and began to build an advantage of their own.
Sanders was relieved by Regnas, followed by virtually the entire pitching staff of Jacksonville’s squad.
“We just didn’t respond very well,” Red Devils coach Larry Burrows said of the Jonesboro rally. “It’s pretty disappointing, really. We were so close in the first game, but we just couldn’t finish it off. We had a good lead going in the second game, but once we lost that, we weren’t very tough then.”
The losses drop Jacksonville’s record to 5-10 overall for the season and 1-5 in the 6A-East Conference.
Burrows says there is little reason for a team possessing the Devils’ talent to be in the slump that his squad is facing.
“That’s five in a row now that we have lost at the end,” Burrows said. “We’ve given up so much late in games that we shouldn’t have. We have enough seniors out there on the field; someone needs to step up and make a play. We were one or two plays away in all of those games from having a win.”
Jacksonville will return to action on Tuesday with a 6A-East doubleheader against Searcy at the brand-new Searcy High Sports Complex beginning at 3:30 p.m.