Leader Blues

Friday, April 17, 2009

SPORTS >> Devils bounce back to gain split with JB

Leader sports editor

JONESBORO — Despite having its 12-game winning streak come to an end, the Jacksonville baseball team was able to bounce back to pick up a crucial win and a split of a doubleheader with Jonesboro on Wednesday.

After falling 6-3 in the opener, the Red Devils received an outstanding performance from pitcher Seth Tomboli in winning the nightcap by a score of 6-0.

“I was so happy with Seth coming back like he did after we lost,” said Jacksonville head coach Larry Burrows. “He just wasn’t going to let us lose. He is always going to compete and he had some of the best stuff he’s ever had.”

The second-game victory allowed Jacksonville (16-6 overall) to remain alone in second place in the 6A-East with a 9-3 mark, two games ahead of the Hurricane and a game ahead of Marion. Jacksonville closes out conference play when it hosts Marion next Friday. A split will earn them the No. 2 seed out of the East.

Tomboli went the distance, striking out seven and scattering seven hits. He also allowed three walks but was able to pitch out of some early jams.

“He had some big strikeouts to get out of trouble,” Burrows said. “And we made the defensive plays when we had to. We needed it.”

Tomboli helped his cause at the plate, driving in two runs with a double. Jacob Abrahamson continued his torrid hitting with a two-run triple. Abrahamson not only had two hits and an RBI in the opener, he went 3 of 4 with a home run in a 13-4 win over Fort Smith Southside a week ago Friday.

“He’s just on a tear,” Burrows said.

In the first game, Jonesboro broke open a 3-3 tie in the fourth and carried a 6-3 lead into the final inning. Jacksonville got its first two on and Caleb Mitchell sent a long shot to the fence.

“Everybody thought it was gone and a tie game when he hit it,” Burrows said. “But they caught it right up against the fence.

Then (Patrick) Castleberry hit it as hard as he could hit it, but right at the center fielder.”

Michael Harmon struggled through five innings in the loss. Harmon is still trying to bounce back from early season injury.

Devon McClure’s RBI single tied the game at 1-1 in the second and Abrahamson’s RBI single brought in Tomboli to tie the game 3-3 in the fourth. Tomboli and Abrahamson each had two hits. McClure had a pair of RBI.

The Red Devils played Cabot last night in a game concluded after Leader deadlines. They travel to Sheridan on Monday before closing out the regular season with Marion next Friday.

“We were glad to get the split,” Burrows said. “I don’t like to lose, but we didn’t give it to them (in the first game). They earned it.”