By Derrick Mahone
Fair or foul?
A line-drive ruled a foul is the difference between Jonesboro being in third place in the Region 4-AAAA standing with Dutchtown staring up from fourth.
When the two clubs met on March 19 at Jonesboro, a seventh inning line-drive by a Dutchtown batter was ruled foul with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals escaped with a 3-1 victory in a pitcher's duel between aces Antonio Allen of Jonesboro and his Dutchtown counterpart Trey Nelson.
The two are expected to be on the mound today when the team's meet at 5:55 p.m. at Dutchtown. Ironically, both are coming off wins over region foe Stockbridge this week.
Jonesboro defeated Stockbridge 11-1 on Monday while Dutchtown beat the Tigers 7-4 Wednesday. This is the first game for both teams since those wins.
"If we had made a couple more plays in that game, we could have won," Dutchtown coach Michael Breedlove said. "We anticipate seeing the same pitcher. It is going to boil down to what team makes the least mistakes will win."
In the last meeting, Dutchtown stranded four runners and wasn't able to take advantage of six Jonesboro errors. Both teams will play three to four freshmen, so mistakes could be critical.
"They are in the No. 3 spot now, and we have a chance to move up," Dutchtown freshman Riley Presnell said. "This will be a very interesting game."
Allen was set to pitch the entire game, but errors got his pitch-count up, and coach Raju Patel was forced to pull him. He left the game after the sixth inning with senior Jesse Gardner coming in relief. Gardner had two strikeouts and gave up only one hit.
Both teams come in on a hot streak.
Jonesboro has won its last five games with some hot bats. The Cardinals have outscored their last three opponents 56-9 in wins over Mount Zion, Forest Park, Griffin, North Clayton and Stockbridge. However, all five represent the bottom portion of the region. This will be the Cardinals first major test of the month since consecutive losses to state-ranked teams Alcovy and Ola last month.
Dutchtown has also hit the ball well against the same five opponents by producing 56 runs during that span.
Breedlove expects a lot of enthusiasm from both teams, despite the students being out on springbreak. He said the players have been able to concentrate in games and practices, although many of their classmates are engaged in other non-school activities.
"These kids are baseball players," Breedlove said. "They don't mine giving up their free time. This is what most of them would rather be doing anyway."