Jackson baseball batters its way to season-opening win over Kelly
The Jackson baseball team had its bats rolling to open the season, as the Indians breezed past Kelly 25-0 in five innings Friday at home in the first game of the 2017 campaign.
Jarrett Newell went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, a two-run home run and a double and Cole Welker was 3-for-3 with a pair of triples, a double, three runs scored and three driven in to lead Jackson (1-0).
Justice Crosnoe was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, a double and a stolen base for the victors, while Braeden Dobbs, Colten Weber, Drew Brown, Landon Pehle and Will Winingar all added two hits apiece.
"I think there's a lot of positives you've got to take from it," Jackson coach Bryan Austin said. " ... Hitting-wise, we were just hitting balls all around the yard today. I think the most proud I am is we had one strikeout on the day, and it comes late. Early on, pitchers are typically ahead of hitters, so I really feel good about our hitters today. They did a great job; they were recognizing pitches. A lot of things we've been doing were working, and it's fun to see that."
Kelly (0-1) only managed two hits as a team, with Payton Eftink knocking a double to left field with one out in the top of the first. But it was all Indians after that.
"Honestly, I'm kind of a gut guy when it comes to coaching," Kelly coach Justin McAlister said. "I didn't expect it to be 25-0, but I expected us to struggle today. I really did. It's like we talked about after the game, losing the core group of guys we've had the last two years, we had a good thing as far as chemistry. Now these guys are new and we've got two seniors and a couple of juniors that have to be leaders now and they're trying to figure each other out and how to pick each other up and get a feel for each other. It started today. We've got to figure it out, and, hopefully, by district time we do."
Drew Brown (1-0) got the win in three innings on the mound. The starting right-hander gave up only one hit while striking out eight and walking just one.
Coley Leimbach and Landon Hahn each pitched an inning in relief for Jackson.
"Drew did a fantastic job," Austin said. "He was locating three pitches -- for a first start, that's fantastic. He was throwing it down at the knees and running it up there upper 70s, low 80s. I was impressed with how he did that.
"We were able to throw some younger guys in there at the end and was impressed by their performances. So, it's nice to be able to get those in knowing you have a doubleheader tomorrow and we have a lot of younger guys waiting to get in those games."
Junior Jonathan Tyler got the start and the loss for the Hawks, who didn't do much to help their pitcher, committing five errors in the first two innings and seven overall. Tyler was tagged for 16 runs -- 11 earned -- on 14 hits in just over two innings of work.
Wyatt Ladure threw two innings in relief, allowing nine runs -- six earned -- on seven hits, walking three, hitting two and striking out one.
Kelly already knew what it was up against, and it gave Jackson too many opportunities early on.
Welker led off the bottom of the first with a triple before scoring on an infield single by Newell to quickly put the Indians on top 1-0.
Two errors with one out left the door open for Jackson, and by the time Brown lifted a sacrifice fly to center field for the second out of the game, the score was 4-0.
The second inning was similar, with Winingar knocking a leadoff single to left before Welker drove him in with a double to right. A ground out put one out on the board, but an error at shortstop put Dobbs on, and he scored on a two-out double by Crosnoe.
Later in the inning, an error on what would have been the final out let a run score and set the table for a run-scoring double by Brown, putting Jackson up 9-0.
"I felt like our pitcher threw a lot of ground-ball outs," McAlister said. "In the first two inning if we make our plays, you know how baseball is, it might be a different ball game. But they're a really good team and we knew that coming in. I'm not real keen on opening against them, but it is what it is right now. We've got a couple tomorrow that will be good bounce-back games, I think, but we could certainly get it handed to us tomorrow if we don't come ready to play.
"But like I said, our young guys, they need the experience. The season started, we're here and they're getting that now. Hopefully, by district time they're ready to go."
If the lead wasn't comfortable enough, the Indians blew things open in the bottom of the third.
The hosts opened the inning with eight consecutive hits, chasing Tyler from the mound and continuing to bolster the lead. The entire order batted around twice in what turned out to be a 13-run inning, putting Jackson up 22-0.
Pinch hitter Bo Goddard reached on an error to open the bottom of the fourth inning, and Newell came to the plate and scooped an 0-1 pitch inside the left-field foul pole for a two-run home run. Three consecutive base hits and a ground out then plated another runner and sealed the final scoreline.
McAlister said he had tried to protect freshman Devin Heuring by playing him at second base, but after seeing the defensive shortcomings, he expects he'll slide him over to shortstop the rest of the way, allowing him to use senior Nathan Vicenzi in his more natural center field and put the entire defense in a more comfortable setup.
"[Heuring's] going to have to be able to handle shortstop for us," McAlister said. " ... His arm strength's not great, as a freshman, but if he can step up and handle short, other pieces kind of slide into place. That's the disappointing part -- looking back, I kind of wish I would have stuck to my guns and put the freshman out there and rode him. But hindsight's 20-20. Starting tomorrow, it's his. He's going to have to play or it's going to be a long spring."
Kelly is back on the field Saturday facing Delta and Richland, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, at Delta High School.
Jackson hosts a doubleheader against Gosnell (Ark.) on Saturday. The games, which had originally been scheduled to be played at Gosnell, was moved to Jackson due to weather. Start times are scheduled for noon and 2 p.m.
WP -- Drew Brown (1-0). LP -- Jonathan Tyler (0-1). 2B-- Payton Eftink (K), Cole Welker (J), Jarrett Newell (J), Braden Dobbs (J), Justice Crosnoe (J), Landon Pehle (J), Brown (J). 3B -- Welker (J), 2, Colten Weber (J). HR -- Jarrett Newell (J). Multiple hits -- Jackson: Welker 3-3, Newell 3-4, Dobbs 2-5, Weber 2-3, Crosnoe 3-4, Pehle 2-3, Will Winingar 2-2.