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Jonesboro survives close battle with North Clayton

Photos by Doug Gorman
Darian Alston throws a pitch for Jonesboro in their game Friday against Forest Park. Jonesboro won the game 7-5.

Photos by Doug Gorman Darian Alston throws a pitch for Jonesboro in their game Friday against Forest Park. Jonesboro won the game 7-5.

By Doug German

dgorman@news-daily.com

It won't go down as the best game the Jonesboro Cardinals have played all year, but Friday night at home against North Clayton, they held off the Eagles' seventh-inning rally en route to a 7-5 victory.

It ended a busy week for the Cardinals who have played five games and won 11 in row.

"They are acting like they are tired," said Jonesboro head coach Dan Maehlman. "I just don't think we were as focused as we could have been.

The Eagle had upset on their minds throughout the game, and appeared ready for a dramatic seventh-inning coming back before the Cardinals squelched the rally.

Trailing 7-3 heading into the last inning, North Clayton took advantage of three straight errors to open the frame. Dorian Taylor and pitcher Marcus Benton reached and later scored, all with no outs to help cut into the Cardinals lead.

Catcher Harold Smith also reached on an error during the seventh to keep North Clayton's hopes alive.

From there, things started falling Jonesboro's way. Chris Nutter was called out on a close play at the plate, and Alex Johnson and Rashad Jackson struckout to end the game.

Darian Alston went the distance for the Cardinal, striking out seven. Benton fired a complete game for the Eagles, and also finished with seven strikeouts.

"I think Darian pitched a really good game," Maehlman said. "We just didn't hit the ball really well."

Five Jonesboro errors also helped North Clayton stay in the game.

"We can't do that if we want to go far in the state tournament," said Maehlman.

The lead changed hands a couple of times early as Viraj Patel singled in the inning and later scored.

Jonesboro tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the first inning when

Toby Veal a solo home run. It was the first of three homers.

The Cardinals hit two and North Clayton one.

The Eagles' home came in the fourth inning after Jonesboro had taken a 3-2 lead one inning earlier.

Jackson's line drive down the left field line cleared the fence and tied the game back up a 3.

The Cardinals broke the tie in the fifth inning with a run to go up 4-3. Getting help from Reggie Naylor in the ninth spot in the order, the Cardinals took the lead for good when he walked and later scored on a wild pitch.

Jonesboro added three insurance runs in the sixth inning. Cedric Nettles' homer was the big blow in the inning.

The Cardinals improved to 16-4 overall and 12-3 in Region 4-AAAA. North Clayton to 4-15 overall and 3-12 in league action.