Leader Blues

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SPORTS >> Red Devils test drive roster, staff in tourney

D’Vone McClure has a smile for his first base coach after getting on during Friday’s game against Greenbrier in the consolation round of the Red Devil Classic which was postponed by rain. McClure singled twice, walked, scored and drove in two runs as part of Jacksonville’s 15-hit attack.

By TODD TRAUB

Leader sports editor

It wasn’t as warm as Florida or Arizona, but Jacksonville and Greenbrier still got in a spring training game Friday.

Jacksonville used a four-run sixth inning to pull away from Greenbrier to win the postponed consolation game of the Red Devil Classic 13-6 at Dupree Park.

In cool temperatures and under cloudy skies, both teams used the occasion to get a look at several reserves and relievers, which made for a messy scorebook and some sometimes messy baseball. Jacksonville pitchers walked nine and hit one while Greenbrier walked seven and hit two and committed three errors to one by Jacksonville.

“Our objective was to see certain people hit and certain people play certain positions,” said Red Devils coach Larry Burrows, who was trying to get his team ready for Tuesday’s 6A East Conference opener with West Memphis. “Today would have been a bullpen day for our pitchers and we wanted to make sure all three of them got work.”

The Red Devils (4-1) used reserves liberally from the No. 5 to No. 9 hitters while both teams went through three pitchers, though Jacksonville had slightly better luck shutting down its opponent.

“We’re still searching for guys on the mound,” Greenbrier coach Terry May said. “We lost a ton of pitching last year and we’re still searching for those guys who are going to go out there and get the job done for us.

“We didn’t find very many today but give Jacksonville a lot of credit. They swung the bat extremely well. They hit the ball hard today.”

Jacksonville got a run, a hit or an RBI from every spot in the order, if not every player. The Red Devils’ Jessie Harbin started at second, worked two scoreless relief innings and went 3 for 4 with two runs, a home run and three RBI.

“He’s probably mad at the coach,” Burrows said. “He goes out and settles the game down on the mound and hits the bomb and I take him out. But like I said, we had a plan going in today of what we wanted to see before we went into conference. He’s getting better. We’re all getting better with the stick, which is good to see.”

Jacksonville took a 2-0 lead in the first when D’Vone McClure grounded out to score Jacob Abrahamson, who led off with a triple, and Harbin hit an RBI single.

Greenbrier tied it in the second when Hunter Winston hit a two-run, two-out single to center to score Brandon Papera, who reached on an infield hit, and Cole Harmon, who walked.

Jacksonville’s Logan Perry reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on Patrick Castleberry’s sacrifice fly to made it 3-2 in the bottom of the second, but Jacksonville left the bases loaded when Alex Tucker grounded back to the mound.

The Panthers tied it again when Austin Anderson led off the third with a walk and scored on a throwing error by Harbin at second as he tried to turn a double play.

Jacksonville responded with a four-run third featuring an RBI groundout by Perry and an RBI double by Abrahamson that brought in Greenbrier reliever Trent Bearden for starter Chase Lear, who moved to first.

With two outs Castleberry hit a two-run single for the 7-3 lead.

Harbin added a two-run home run over the left-field fence to make it 9-3 Jacksonville in the fourth.

Greenbrier cut the lead in the sixth, scoring three runs on Austin Anderson’s infield single, and a bases-loaded walk and a bases-loaded hit batter by reliever Stephen Swagerty.

But the Red Devils responded with their four-run sixth that put it out of reach for Greenbrier.

Abrahamson drew a bases-loaded walk, D’Vone McClure singled in a run and Castleberry hit a two-run single to left to make it 13-6.

Swagerty walked in a run in the Greenbrier seventh, but he struck out Hunter Winston and Austin Anderson and got Matt Burgess to fly out to end it.

Castleberry, the No. 3 hitter, was 4 for 5 with a run and five RBI. McClure was 2 for 4 with a run and two RBI.

Leadoff man Abrahamson was 2 for 2 with two runs and two RBI but reached in every at-bat as he walked twice, once with the bases loaded in the Red Devils’ sixth, and was hit by a pitch.

Jacksonville steps out of conference play to face Little Rock Parkview today at Dupree Park and will also be at home against Cabot in another non-conference game on Friday before playing the Extra Innings tournament March 25-27.