SPORTS >>LR Red pounds out 18 at Dupree
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Jacksonville bats sounded off for a couple of innings Tuesday night at Dupree Park against Little Rock-Continental Express. The trouble for Jacksonville is that Continental’s bats never shut up. The result was a three-hour, 18-10 marathon that dropped Gwatney’s record to 4-12 on the season.
LRCE, also known as Little Rock Red, scored seven runs in the top of the first inning to take a lead it would almost, but never relinquish.
Red’s leadoff and nine-hole hitters got home runs in the opening inning. Leadoff hitter Blake Frazier sent the game’s second pitch bouncing off the top of the wall in centerfield for a solo homer. Nine-hole batter Russell Goss put one in the street behind right field for two RBIs that capped the half-inning’s scoring.
Jacksonville answered with four runs in the bottom of the same frame. Leadoff singles by Blake Mattison and Jason Regnas put two runners on. Cameron Hood loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch. A passed ball scored Mattison from third, but cost Zach Thomas a grand slam. Thomas sent the next pitch out over the left field wall to make it 7-4 before the next three batters went down in order.
An RBI single by Luke Osborne scored Matt DeSalvo, who was hit by a pitch to make it 8-4, and Jacksonville cut the margin to one run on its next at bat.
Ricky Tomboli singled to lead off the second inning and Adam Ussery walked. Mattison’s ground ball advanced the runners and Regnas’ sac grounder scored Tomboli. Hood then walked with two outs and Thomas singled to score Ussery and drive in his fourth run of the game. Eric Berry then doubled into the gap in right-centerfield to score Hood and cut Little Rock’s lead to 8-7.
Jacksonville’s defense broke down a bit in the top of the third. Three base hits, three walks and two errors gave LRCE an 11-7 lead, but Jacksonville got it back to a one-run game in the bottom of the third.
They did so with two outs and without a base hit. Three walks and two Little Rock errors plated the runs after a groundout and strikeout started the inning. Ussery and Mattison drew walks and Regnas loaded the bases when he reached on an error at first base. Hood walked to drive in the first run. An error on a high, shallow pop up in left field off Thomas’ bat allowed Mattison and Regnas to score to make it 11-10.
The two teams put a temporary end to the run festival with a pitching change. Little Rock’s Clay Washington gave up just one hit the rest of the game, an infield single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jacksonville’s Eric Berry shut Red’s bats down for three innings, but ran into some trouble in the seventh.
Little Rock got one run in the fourth off a walk, two sacrifice fly balls and a wild pitch, but Berry gave up just one base hit in his three-plus innings of work.
Two infield errors put two runners on to start the top of the final frame and jump-started another big rally. Berry walked the next two batters before being pulled with the bases loaded. Blake Frazier then got his second home run of the game, only this one didn’t just barely get out, and it wasn’t a solo shot. Frazier’s second home run was a grand slam that landed in the softball fields behind right field.
It wasn’t quite over. Little Rock got its fourth home run two batters later when Washington sent one out to left field to set the final margin.
Jacksonville began play in the Gwatney Chevrolet Fourth of July Classic yesterday at Dupree Park. They will play twice today, starting with Dunklin County Missouri at 11:30 a.m., and ending against Sylvan Hills at 4 p.m.