By Doug Gorman
The Jonesboro Cardinals look like a team on a quest for a Region 2-AAAAA baseball crown.
Wednesday afternoon, the Cardinals made the Houston County Bears their latest victims, beating their Region 2-AAAAA guest 6-3.
The Cardinals used eight timely hits and solid pitching from right-handed pitcher Alford Arnold to keep its region victory perfect at 4-0. The win also upped the Cardinals' overall record to 9-1.
Houston County dropped to 5-5 overall and 1-1 in Region 2-AAAAA.
"The guys have worked hard and they have put the time and effort in, and they have listened to the coaching staff," said Jonesboro head coach Don Corr. "They are buying into what the coaching staff is telling them, and it's paying off."
Jonesboro sealed the victory in the seventh when Arnold let his arm do the talking by striking out the Bears in order.
Arnold gave up seven hits, striking out seven and walking none in his complete-game win.
"I just wanted to get the game over in the seventh, because I didn't want them to have a chance to come back on us," said Arnold.
Arnold was involved in the game's most controversial play in the bottom of the third when he stepped to the plate and ripped a pitch that looked like a home run.
However, the umpire in the field ruled the ball bounced first and sent Arnold back to second with a ground-rule double.
Arnold scored in the inning anyway, and after the contest he shrugged off missing out on the homer in the official statistics.
"I scored later and we won the game anyway," he said. "That's the most important thing."
Houston County scored the first run of the game in the top of the first when Aaron Pilarski reached on an error and later scored.
Jonesboro tied the game in the bottom of the second when Chris Smith singled. Courtesy runner Ty Lewis crossed the plate with the Cardinals' first run on Brend Toro's sacrifice fly.
The Cardinals added two more runs in the third when Rashard Brown knocked in Arnold from second. Smith then singled to score Brown.
Houston County's Bill Dukes was hit by a pitch and later scored in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-2,
Brown continued to swing a hot bat for the Cardinals. His single in the fourth inning drove in two runs and upped the Cardinals' lead to 5-2.
"I have been working hard in practice and just want to stay focused for the team," said Brown,
Houston County added its final run in the fifth to cut the gap to 5-3.
Harold Walker doubled to lead off the sixth and added an insurance run to seal the Cardinals' victory.
The Cardinals are trying to earn a second straight trip to the playoffs and that has inspired the team to its fast start.
"We wanted to carry that playoff experience over form last year, and we plan on keeping it going," said Brown.