By Derrick Mahone
It was a classic pitching duel between Jonesboro's Antonio Allen and Trey Nelson of Dutchtown.
Each provided their best stuff, but Allen was able to get a little more help for his teammates as the Cardinals took a 3-1 win Friday in their first Region 4-AAAA contest.
Allen went six innings and recorded 10 strikeouts while giving up only six hits. Jesse Gardner came on in relief and struckout a pair and gave up a hit. Nelson was equally as impressive for the Bulldogs with a nine-strikeout performance while giving up five hits.
"Our two senior pitchers stepped up, and that is what we expect," Jonesboro coach Raju Patel said. "Anytime you get 10 strikeouts from your pitcher, that makes it a little easier. It was a back and forth battle out there. It is always good to begin your region schedule with a win."
Dutchtown had it chances, but stranded four runners and wasn't able to take advantage of six Jonesboro errors.
"Their errors didn't hurt them," Dutchtown coach Michael Breedlove said. "Trey pitched a great game. We just didn't provide enough runs."
The Bulldogs, who dropped to 3-7 overall and 1-1 in the region, got its lone run in the fourth inning when Kellan Holiday scored on an error as they trailed 2-1.
Gardner said they are going to have to tighten up on the fielding to have a chance for the playoffs this season. With the win, Jonesboro improved to 5-5 and 1-0. The senior said the poor fielding cost Allen a shot at a complete game.
"He should have pitched the whole game, but the errors got his pitch count high," Gardner said. "We are going to have to do a better job at fielding. This win will give us a big boost."
Allen said he had a good feeling about the game during warmups.
"I felt like I had the heat," he said. "We are on a three-game winning streak with a pretty young team. We got about five freshmen on the team, so each win is giving us some confidence."
Jonesboro had a roller coaster start of the season against non-region opponents. With its current three-game winning streak, the players say the bumpy start seem like a distant past.
"Those were just warmup games," Allen said. "None of that matters now that we are playing in the region. We had some losses in the preseason that we shouldn't had."
Jonesboro takes on co-region leaders (Monday) and Ola (Wednesday).
"We got four freshmen playing a lot for us," Patel said. "We just need to get them in on the action. They are going to be fine, because they know what we expect."
Dutchtown doesn't return tol action until Wednesday when the it host Alcovy.
"We have a few practice days to work on some things," Bleedlove said.