After picking up three wins in three days earlier this week, the Alcovy varsity baseball team’s momentum came to a halt Friday night, dropping a pair of road contests to the Jackson Red Devils in a non-region doubleheader.
Alcovy scored 26 combined runs in its three previous contests, but the Tigers’ offense managed just six hits against the Red Devils’ pitching staff, falling 7-5 in the opening game before dropping an 8-1 decision in the second.
Jackson’s Will Lane and Tyler Walker picked up the wins on the mound for the Red Devils on Senior Night, while Nathan Purcell and Brock Carter were saddled with the losses for the Tigers.
“We came out kind of slow and relaxed again and showed a little bit of youth, but then we battled back (in the first game). Me and (Jackson coach) Chad (Gillespie) talked about this all year long – (these games) being a king of warm-up for playoffs next week. This series we looked at it as kind of getting into that mindset.”
Game One: Jackson 7, Alcovy 5
Alcovy struck first against the Red Devils, but it was Jackson that built a 7-1 lead after four innings, tayllying nine runs over the first four frames.
Trailing by six with two innings to go, the Tigers battled back in the top of the sixth, trimming Jackson’s lead to 7-4.
Zack Hill reached base with a one-out walk, bringing up Jesse Gilbert for his third at-bat of the game. With a 3-2 count, Gilbert smashed a homer over the left field fence, bringing the Tigers within three runs of the Red Devils.
Nanpon Ross reached on a double to center field after Gilbert’s homer and Ross touched home two batters later on a Mark Mostek single and for the first time in the game it felt like the Tigers could rally back against Jackson’s early offensive punch.
Mostek sat the Red Devils down one, two, three in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Tigers’ one last opportunity to steal a road win.
Brayden Ergle was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh, but shortstop Brock Carter grounded into a double play, bringing the Red Devils within an out of the win.
Freshman Dawson Minshew drew a walk and a Jackson error allowed the Tigers’ catcher to come home after the Red Devils’ Eric Baldridge’s throw to first on a Hill grounder missed its mark. Minshew touched home, cutting the Red Devils’ lead to 7-5, but Baldridge struck out Gilbert in the Tigers’ final at-bat, clinching the two-run win.
The Red Devils registered 10 total hits over seven innings, including a 2-for-3 performance from De’eric Bell and a multi-hit night from Austin Flores who finished with a home run and three RBIs.
Purcell, Gilbert, Mostek and Ross accounted for the Tigers’ four hits, with Gilbert leading the way with two RBIs and a run scored.
Purcell took the loss on the mound, giving up five runs on five hits in two innings of work.
Game Two: Jackson 8, Alcovy 1
Jackson’s pitching continued to impress in the second game, holding Alcovy without a hit until early in the sixth inning.
The Red Devils’ senior Walker shined on Senior Night, totaling 15 strikeouts in a complete game performance while allowing a single unearned run.
Trailing 5-0 heading into the sixth frame, Hunter Phillips broke up Walker’s no-hit bid, leading off the inning with a single to right field.
After a pair of Alcovy strikeouts Phillips reached home on a Jackson error, one of four Red Devils miscues in the game, touching the plate on a throwing error. Dalton Reagin connected with a grounder down the third base line and the Red Devils’ fielder played it cleanly, but his throw to the bag glanced off the first baseman’s glove, allowing Phillips to reach home from first while Reagin advanced all the way to third.
The Tigers were unable to capitalize again on the Red Devils’ gift, as Walker picked up his 12th strikeout of the game to end the inning.
With the lead cut to 5-1, Jackson tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth, scoring on an Alcovy throwing error, a Levie Heath double to center and a Brandon Hardy grounder to third.
Mostek attempted to rally the Tigers in the seventh, leading off with a single, but Walker struck out Alcovy’s final three batters, sealing the win.
Carter earned the loss on the hill for Alcovy after Jackson plated two runs in the second inning on two hits. Carter struck out eight in four innings of work, leaving the game trailing 2-0.
The Tigers return to action Monday in its final regular season contest of the 2014 season, traveling to Ola to take on the Mustangs at 5:30 p.m.