Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

SPORTS >> Red Devils take lumps in victory

By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor

Friday’s victory was the easy part for the Jacksonville Red Devils.

The hard part was getting through the weekend.

Jacksonville trounced Little Rock Central 19-7 in a non-conference game at Dupree Park, and then had to keep its fingers crossed for the health of sophomore pitcher/infielder Jesse Harbin, who was injured in a base running collision.

Harbin was taken to the emergency room to be examined and athletic trainer Jason Cates said there was concern Harbin might have sustained fractured ribs or damage to his spleen. That left Red Devils coach Larry Burrows nervously looking to the rest of the season as he anticipated life without Harbin.

“That’s our ace and he can play everywhere,” Burrows said.

On Monday, Burrows was relieved to learn Harbin had no serious injuries, though he was expected to be a little sore.

“His ribs aren’t broken,” Burrows said. “I guess that’s a good thing.”

Burrows planned to look Harbin over in practice Monday with an eye toward having him available for Tuesday’s 6A-East Conference game at Marion. If Harbin was unable to go on Tuesday, Burrows at least expected him for the remainder of the year.

“He ought to be back for sure by next week,” Burrows said.

Harbin was injured trying to make a tag at second after fielding a grounder and was run over on the base path.

Central may have gotten the better of the collision, but Jacksonville had the Tigers outnumbered on the bases.

Jacksonville batted 12 in the seven-run first inning and nine in the five-run second.

A pair of errors by shortstop Jacob Abrahamson opened the door to a three-run Central fourth as the Tigers pulled within 15-7 to postpone losing by the 10-run rule.

But those would be the last runs Central would score as Jacksonville (11-3) got help from a wild pitch and a pair of bases-loaded walks on its way to a four-run fifth and the 10-run lead that shortened the game.

“We had a good day overall with the stick,” Burrows said. “We competed. We had a lot of big two-strike hits a lot of big two-out hits. We’re not going to swing it much better than we swung it today.”

Abrahamson reached base every time as he singled, doubled, walked and was hit by a pitch while driving in four runs.

Tyler Crook was 2 for 2 with two walks and four runs. He had a two-strike, two-out RBI in the second that led to the Red Devils’ five-run inning.

Alex Tucker was 1 for 1 with three walks and two RBI and Logan Perry had a single and two RBI.

While the Red Devils got their hits in bunches early, the game bogged down late with walks issued by the Tigers.

“Their pitchers didn’t throw as many strikes coming in there, some of the last two,” Burrows said. “That’s sort of what the game turns into when they’re not throwing it over the plate.”