CARTERVILLE — The Carterville baseball team jumped out to a seven-run lead and went on to defeat Anna-Jonesboro, 9-3, Wednesday in the semifinals of the Carterville Class 2A Regional.
The Lions struck for four runs in the first inning off of Anna-Jonesboro hurler Hunter Ralls. Cole Sizemore knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice.
Peter Baker belted a two-run triple, and Luke Andersen smacking a run-scoring single as well to give the Lions a quick 4-0 advantage.
“It’s the postseason, and everybody is more relaxed, and we’re taking good at-bats,” said Carterville coach Bobby Jackson. “We’ve just kind of carried on the way we’ve been playing the past couple weeks. I’m glad to see that.”
Carterville added three more runs in the third frame. Sizemore stole home to make it 5-0. Tyler Bittle and Alex Griffin delivered RBI hits as well for a 7-0 lead.
“We can’t just count on two or three guys to hit well for us,” Jackson said. “We’ve had some seniors produce all year, but some underclassmen are getting big hits, and that makes us a tough out in this tournament."
Blake Jackson started on the mound for Carterville and pitched three innings. The Wildcats (11-11) loaded the bases with nobody out in the second inning.
But Jackson recorded three straight outs to keep Anna-Jonesboro off the scoreboard.
“You can’t load the bases with nobody out and not score any runs, and to me that was the game,” said Anna-Jonesboro coach Aaron Roberts. “We gave all the momentum back, and the game was over in the second inning right there. Carterville did all the things with runners on base that we didn’t do today.”
The Wildcats did score single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. But Anna-Jonesboro had fallen into too big of a hole at that point.
Sean Plott, who went 4-for-4, hit a leadoff triple and scored on a single from Jake Wright during the fourth inning for the Wildcats. Plott knocked an RBI double in the fifth to cut the Carterville lead to 8-2.
“We had a great group of seniors, and we had four guys who I wouldn’t trade for the world,” Roberts said. “We talked a lot this year about laying a foundation for the future, and those seniors are certainly guys that are going to be remembered. They’ve built a foundation for our guys to follow.”
Carterville takes on the winner of today’s Du Quoin/Vienna game for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.