By Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro just needed two big innings and a solid pitching performance from ace Antonio Allen to bounce back from two consecutive region losses.
Allen struckout seven runners in the Cardinals' 12-2 win at Mount Zion Friday in a Region 4-AAAA contest that was halted in the fifth inning because of the mercy rule.
The win came on the heels of losing consecutive games to state-ranked Ola and Alcovy in its past two contest.
"We played well against two good teams," Jonesboro coach Raju Patel said. "We just didn't have the depth."
Friday wasn't the case as the Cardinals jumped to a 5-0 first inning lead and was never really challenge. The entire lineup batted in the opening inning as Mount Zion committed four errors.
"It was huge getting off to a big lead in a rivalry game like this," Patel said. "Getting off to a good start makes it easy to win games."
Allen said the early lead gave him a lot of confidence. Jonesboro would score five more runs in the fourth inning to give the ace pitcher a cushion to work with.
"After that big lead, I pretty much knew the only thing I had to do was throw strikes and put the ball in play," Allen said. "It was kind of a breeze after that. We got after a team that we pretty much knew we should have beat. Our goal now is to lose no more games."
The game was delayed an hour while Mount Zion players and coaches made repairs on the rain-soaked field. Once it got underway, Jonesboro provided a lot of offensive firepower. In addition to a strong pitching outing, Allen was 3 of 3 at the plate with two runs.
"Not to take anything away from Jonesboro, but we made a lot of mistakes," Mount Zion coach Kelsey White said. "We always say we have to be good in pitching, hitting and fielding. Today, the latter hurt us. We gave up eight unearned runs. We helped them by making some critical errors."
Mount Zion picked up two runs in the fourth inning when Justin Brown reached first on a Jonesboro error to start the inning. He would score on an RBI single by Kenneth Wiggins. Pitcher Marc Threet would score the Bulldogs only other run in the inning.
"We started the inning with an error, lost some confidence," Allen said. "We didn't do a good job with the fielding because the field wasn't in that great of shape. We were able to make up for it."
White said he was proud of the fact that his team never gave up, despite being down by a huge deficit.
"It my first year here and I'm trying to weed out some of that inconsistency. My guys just kept battling. They have a lot of fight in them."
Allen was able to recovery in the bottom of the fifth by striking out the side.
"I don't have to say anything to him, because he is a senior," Patel said. "He knows what to do. He closed the game the way he was supposed to do it."