Denton native Jackson hits in-the-park homer

ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s apparent that Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson enjoys hitting at Rangers Ballpark. The Denton native entered Friday’s game with a .327 career batting average in 55 plate appearances at the venue in Arlington.

Friday night, Jackson reached base three times and hit his first career inside-the-park home run, which came in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-2 win over the Rangers.

A quickly sinking fly ball to right field bounced before a diving Nelson Cruz could get near it. The ball then carried over the top of the right fielder and into the corner. Cruz said he immediately knew Jackson had a chance to score because of the leadoff hitters speed.

“As soon as he hit it I thought I was good,” said Cruz, who strained his back on the attempt. “When I felt like I was going to dive, I was like ‘(Dang)!’ I saw the ball sink a little bit. I guess it wasn’t a good idea.”

Jackson certainly wasn’t upset that Cruz attempted to make the grab.

“I was keeping my eye on it the whole time,” Jackson said. “I was just running hard out of the box. I didn’t know it was going to get by him at first.

“You don’t think it’ll ever happen like that but it happens.”

Jackson finished 2-for-4 in front of several friends and family that ventured out to the ballpark to watch the former Denton Ryan star athlete.

“It’s definitely fun,” Jackson said of playing near Denton. “You get a lot of friends and family to be able to come down. It’s not that far away. They don’t really get a chance to see me play that much.”

Cruz exited the game after the inning because of the back injury but said after the game that it shouldn’t prevent him from playing Saturday against the Tigers.

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota