Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman points to the outfield as he explains the ground rules to Lovejoy coach Craig Chatman during a pregame meeting at homeplate before the teams played a Region 4-AAAA game Wednesday.
By Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy coach Craig Chatman could sum his team's 17-7 loss Wednesday at Jonesboro up in two works - no defense.
"The whole game we had no defense," Chatman said as his team lost its second game in as many days. Tuesday the Wildcats lost 5-0 to fifth-ranked Mundy's Mill.
In Wednesday's game, the Wildcats were their worst enemy most of the time by committing six errors. Jonesboro produced six runs in the third and five in the fifth on only five hits while the WIldcats made five errors.
"We knew from playing them the first time that they could swing the bat," Chatman said. "This game was the same as the first time we played, excepted this time we butchered up the field pretty good."
In the first meeting, Lovejoy won 11-4 on March 11. In that game, the Cardinals committed 11 errors.
"Our pitching has done a good job all season," Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman said. "Our defense is getting better after having made a lot of errors. The bats are starting to come around. I feel we are taking steps in the right direction."
Cardinals starting pitcher Brandon Jackson went five innings giving up five runs on three hits while striking out three batters.
"I felt that I did pretty good," said Jackson, a sophomore. "We struggled some at the beginning of the season, but we are coming together as a team now. We have some big games, so we have to come back ready to play."
With the win, Jonesboro improved to 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the region while Lovejoy fell to 13-5 and 8-5. With its win over Mount Zion, Mundy's Mill improved to 12-0 in the region.
The three teams, along with Creekside and Morrow are trying to secure playoff spots. Team that finish first and second in the region get to host first round games.
Lovejoy takes on Riverdale Friday before playing Forest Park on Monday.
"We just have to regroup and get ready," Chatman said. "We are still in the thick of the playoff race. My job is to get them ready to play."
Lovejoy and Jonesboro were even at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning after Theo Hassan, Jr. scored on an RBI single from Vance Johnson. Hassan reached first on an error.
But the next two innings belonged to Jonesboro as the Cardinals exploded for 11 runs.
Jonesboro has won four straight games since a 7-3 loss to Morrow. During this four-game winning streak, the Cardinals have scored in double figures each game. They have outscored their opponents 63-17 with wins over North Clayton, Riverdale, Mount Zion and Lovejoy.
"We have just told the pitchers to pitch, because we have their backs," Jonesboro sophomore center fielder Cameron Sutton said. "We have been putting the bat on the ball."
Lovejoy had a big fifth inning when it scored five runs to pull within 14-8, but the Cardinals answered with two runs in the inning before scoring four in the sixth to end the game.
"We are starting to build the chemistry we need," Maehlman said. "This group of kids have been awesome."