Leader Blues

Friday, March 19, 2010

SPORTS >> Castleberry propels Devils to big sweep

By CHAD MATCHETT
Special to The Leader

If there were any questions regarding the hitting abilities of Jacksonville’s Patrick Castleberry, they were answered in Tuesday’s conference opening doubleheader sweep of West Memphis.

The Red Devils swept the Blue Devils 14-0 and 13-1 as the Jacksonville offense continues to impress.

Castleberry was hitting .588 going into the day, and increased that to .609 after going a combined 4 for 6 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.

The Red Devils’ catcher improved his season statistics to five doubles, four home runs, eight runs and an almost freakish 21 RBI as Jacksonville improved to 6-1. Castleberry hit a grand slam in Jacksonville’s 11-4 victory over Hot Springs Lakeside earlier in the year.

“That’s what he does, he’s a pure hitter,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said. “You’re going to be hearing a lot about Patrick.”

Castleberry wasn’t the only Red Devil to have a good Tuesday. D’vone McClure was 3 for 3 with three runs and four RBI and went 2 for 3 in the second game.

Jacksonville didn’t waste time jumping on West Memphis early in the first game. Jacob Abrahamson and McClure led off the first inning with back-to-back singles, and then Castleberry stepped up and launched a 2-0 fastball over the fence for a three-run homer.

The game was all but over after the Red Devils batted around in an eight-run second. No. 8 hitter Noah Sanders led off the inning with a double and Logan Perry was hit by a pitch. The Red Devils then reeled off four consecutive hits to take control.

Meanwhile, things were going just as well on defense as the Blue Devils didn’t have a baserunner until a fourth-inning single and double. That was the only offense West Memphis would muster against Jacksonville starter Michael Lamb.

Lamb worked five innings with five strikeouts and two hits while he gave up no walks.

The nightcap saw almost as many runs, but not as many hits for Jacksonville in the 13-1 victory.

The Red Devils had seven hits, 10 walks and three hit batters. The bottom four batters for Jacksonville were a combined 0 for 11, but did score five runs.

Perry was walked twice and reached on an error and scored three runs as the ninth batter.

The first three hitters — Abrahamson, McClure and Castleberry — were a combined 6 for 9 with three doubles, a homer and seven RBI. Each went 2 for 3.

Cleanup hitter Caleb Mitchell didn’t get much of a chance to hit with three walks and was hit by a pitch.

Sanders picked up the victory on four innings of work. Nick Rodriguez finished off the fifth in relief.

“We knew we would hit it this year, but we weren’t sure about our pitching,” said Burrows. “We’ve been throwing strikes and pitching well. We’ll really see where we’re at against Cabot. They’ve got a good bunch this year.”