Leader Blues

Friday, April 18, 2008

SPORTS >>Falcons weather tough week on diamond

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski’s return to Falcon Field at Dupree Park against Greene County Tech on Thursday capped off a trying week for the Falcons’ bid to reach the 5A state playoffs. The week started with 15-4 and 9-1 losses at Paragould on Tuesday, and the Eagles added to the Falcons’ loss column with a pair of 12-2 decisions on Thursday.

A number of Falcon errors allowed defending state champs GCT to control both games. It wasthe first game at the Falcons’ home field in over a month and, according to NP coach Robbie Walker, the lack of practice showed.

“This year, I thought defense would be our strong point,” Walker said. “But we’re making way too many errors. We’ve been giving people six and seven outs an inning, and you can’t win very many games giving people that many chances in an inning.”

The recent storms through the area have been unkind to everyone, but flooding on the Falcons’ field, combined with damage to the auxiliary gymnasium where they normally practice hitting, has limited practice across the board.

“This was the first game we’ve played on our field in over a month,” Walker said. “Yesterday, we finally got to practice on it, so it had been four weeks since we actually got to get out on our field to practice.

“We had a couple of home games that we changed to go on the road, so at least we were able to get some games in.”

Despite the layoff, North Pulaski had moments of strong offense during Game 1 against Paragould on Tuesday.

A three-run home run by senior Jahmal Calvin in the top of the third inning drove in A.J. Allen and Chris Williams. Dustin Terry plated the final run for the Falcons later in the inning after reaching on a single.

The only highlight in the nightcap came on Allen’s RBI that brought home Terry.

Allen was also in the mix offensively on Thursday. The Falcons’ leadoff batter walked in the top of the third inning, and scored off a GCT error on a bunt by Zach Roman. Allen then got the only other RBI for the game, driving home Marshall Shipley in the bottom of the third inning. Shipley reached on a double to set up the second NP score.

The second game featured more of the same. Allen led off the game with a single, and scored when senior Shaun Rase drove him in.

The Falcons added one more run the following inning when Roman singled, and eventually came around to score on Terry’s RBI.

If lack of practice weren’t enough, Walker said that the depth of the 5A-East Conference hasn’t been much kinder to his young squad.

“Our conference is very strong,” Walker said. “It’s probably one of the strongest baseball conferences in the state. Last year, Tech finished fourth in our conference and won state. That just shows how tough our conference is from top to bottom.”

The Falcons are now 5-11 overall, 1-7 in the 5A-East Conference.