Leader Blues

Friday, April 09, 2010

SPORTS >> Red Devils pound Patriots, take two

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville had a key player work through some aches and pains Tuesday.

The offense, on the other hand, was in good health.

The Red Devils swept Marion 5-4 and 11-1 in a 6A-East Conference doubleheader at Marion, getting a gutsy effort from banged-up sophomore pitcher Jesse Harbin in the first game and a group effort at the plate to win the second game by the 10-run rule.

Harbin was still sore after a collision on the bases in last Friday’s game with Little Rock Central. Harbin, who was trying to make a putout at second, was initially suspected to have fractured ribs, but he was checked out and cleared to play at Marion and got the first-game victory.

“He was kind of off,” Red Devils coach Larry Burrows said. “He struggled, but like I’ve said, there ain’t anybody going to compete harder than he does. He struggled a little bit. Come to find out he was a little sore, he told us that after the fact.

“He sort of labored out there. But you know he competed. That’s what you’re going to get every time he goes out there.”

Harbin went five innings to get the victory while sophomore D’Vone McClure provided the key hit with a two-RBI, bases-loaded single that broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth. Junior Mike Lamb pitched the rest of the way for the save.

“I thought it was going to be tough,” Burrows said, taking note of Marion’s 30 hits in a conference doubleheader with Jonesboro.

Burrows was especially pleased to see production from the bottom of the order, specifically No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Alex Tucker and Logan Perry. Tucker, who was not retired all day, was 3 for 3 in the first game and scored two runs and Perry was 2 for 2 with a homer and two runs.

“We had nine hits and five of them came from Tucker and Perry hitting eight and nine, so that was great to see,” Burrows said.

McClure, the leadoff man, added punch with his one-out, bases-load hit in the sixth inning.

The Red Devils posted a seven-run fourth inning in the second game to win by the 10-rule.

“It was kind of ugly,” Burrows said.

Jacksonville, the home team in the second game, scored a run in the first and three in the second before breaking the game open in the fourth. Catcher Patrick Castleberry led the offense with three RBI while no other player had more than one, though every starter scored. Nick Rodriguez had two hits while everybody else had one and the Red Devils took advantage of eight walks.

Tucker followed up his first game performance by going 1 for 1 and drawing two walks.

“I think he’s made one out in the last five games,” Burrows said.

Lamb was the second-game starter and Noah Sanders relieved him to pitch three innings for the victory.

“He was more consistent this time out, that was good to see,” Burrows said of Lamb.

As for the offense, Burrows is pleased different players are contributing at different times.

“That’s the thing about this game. You can go really good for two weeks and you can kind of go bad for two weeks,” Burrows said. “It’s the ultimate team game. You have to have them all.”

The Red Devils returned to Dupree Park on Friday to play host to Little Rock Catholic in an Arkansas Activities Association benefit game. Traditionally such benefits are played before the season starts, but with two games shaved off the baseball schedule this year, Burrows said it was decided to play the game during the regular season.