CARTERVILLE — Anna-Jonesboro exploded for six runs in the first inning and went on to beat Carterville, 9-4, Tuesday in SIRR Mississippi Division prep baseball at John A. Logan College.

The Wildcats (4-2, 1-0) sent 10 batters to the plate in the opening frame and amassed five hits against two Carterville hurlers.

“That’s a couple games in a row where our approach has been very good,” said Anna-Jonesboro coach Aaron Roberts. “They had a couple guys who weren’t throwing the hardest in the world, and our approach to go middle away was fantastic. We hit a bunch of line drives in a row. It seemed like everything we were hitting was hard. That’s just proof that the first inning is as important as the last one.”

Carterville starter Julian Harshbarger was pulled after he walked the first batter and hit the next one. Ben Holcomb came on in relief, and the Wildcats hit him hard.

Bryce Osman smacked an RBI single, and Hunter Ralls knocked a run-scoring double for a 2-0 advantage. Jake Wright and Dalton Goddard also delivered RBI singles in the inning.

Anna-Jonesboro quickly grabbed a 6-0 advantage. Ralls allowed base runners in five of his six innings of work on the mound. But he frequently pitched out of trouble.

“That’s a testament to him battling,” Roberts said of Ralls. “He lost his concentration a couple times and gave them some free passes. I thought, without having his best stuff today, he did a nice job of going out and competing.”

The Lions (4-3, 1-1) scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings, but were never able to string many hits together. Alex Haake drove in a run on an infield single in the fourth as the Lions pulled to within 6-3.

“It’s one of those things where you give up six in the first inning and your morale gets down,” said Carterville coach Bobby Jackson. “It’s tough to overcome, but I’ll give our kids credit because they made it a game there in the middle innings. That’s all I can ask for.”

The Wildcats came up with some key insurance runs with two outs later in the game. Osman hit an RBI single in the fifth, and Goddard did the same in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.

“We needed those big hits, and that’s a good ball club who is disciplined and well-coached,” Roberts said. “We knew they’d come back at us, and they kept chipping away. We desperately needed those last couple runs.”

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