STAR CITY — The Pine Bluff Zebras were looking to bounce back after back-to-back losses and did just that with an 11-3 win over the Junction City Dragons on Thursday in the opening round of the Los Toritos Spring Break Tournament.
The Zebras pounded out 11 hits and used a six-run sixth inning to pull away from the Dragons late in the game. Starting pitcher Jaylon DeShazier was in control throughout the night as he finished with four innings pitched while allowing just one hit and three runs (two earned) with five walks and two strikeouts.
“He’s still pretty young,” head coach Ryan Stinson said of the freshman. “He’s still learning and continuing to work, but I thought he did a great job.”
Pine Bluff (5-2) was playing as the away team and jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. Adam Graham led the game off by getting hit by a pitch and Braylon Jones was set to sacrifice him over to second, but an error on the first baseman allowed Graham to score all the way from first base, giving the Zebras the early lead.
“I thought we played pretty good,” Stinson said. “We are still in that growing process, so we are just trying to get better each day and stay focused while doing the best we can.”
The Zebras added four more runs in the third inning before breaking it open in the sixth. After Junction City (4-6) cut the lead to 5-3, Pine Bluff batted responded in a big way.
A walk and infield single along with an error loaded the bases for the Zebras with no outs. Tyler Smith then connected with an RBI single to left field and followed up by Kacy Higgins, who laced a two-RBI double to centerfield to put the Zebras ahead 8-3. After a groundout, Jordan O’Guinn smacked a two-RBI single to centerfield to make the score 10-3. The Zebras went on to add another run on a bases loaded walk before ending the inning with a strikeout.
The Zebras then closed out the game in the bottom half of the sixth inning as the run rule went into effect with the Zebras leading by eight runs after five or more innings of play.
“We just play the game,” Stinson said of the Zebras’ performance. “Once you play the game, it doesn’t really matter who you play, hopefully you can come out with a win.”
Michael Roberts closed the game out for the Zebras with two innings pitched while allowing no hits with a walk and a strikeout.
O’Guinn ended the night 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a run scored. DeShazier also had a good night at the plate with a 2-for-4 showing and an RBI. Joe Lowe collected the Dragon’s only hit, finishing 1 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored.
Pine Bluff moves on to face the Hamburg/Malvern winner at 4 p.m. Saturday.