No answers for Jackson Senior Legion as it falls to Festus 14-5 in zone tournament semifinal
Jackson Post 158 Senior Legion baseball found itself in an early hole and never really recovered, as it fell to Festus Post 153 by a 14-5 score on Thursday night in a Zone 4 Tournament semifinal at Whitey Herzog Field in Jackson, Missouri.
The hosts trailed 7-0 early and by as many as 10-0, but scored five runs in the final three innings.
Prior to that, though, it was all Festus.
"The thing is that we just didn't put good at-bats together the first four innings. You can't do that in a big game like this," Jackson coach Mark Lewis said. "We got behind."
And Post 158 stayed there.
The result puts Festus into Saturday's championship game at 1 p.m., while Jackson drops into the loser's bracket and will play at 7 p.m. today against the winner of a 4 p.m. elimination contest between Cape Girardeau and Eureka.
"Right now when you're in the playoffs you've just got to come out and play well," Lewis said. "At this point there are no bad teams around, and when you're making mistakes early with ... whatever it is, good teams are going to capitalize. Just show up and get after it. That's all you can do."
Festus (25-9) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and continued to carry that momentum forward, finishing with 17 hits.
Blain Prater was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, three RBIs and a pair of doubles for the victors, while Collin Mann was 3-for-6 with two runs scored and two driven in and Chandler Dix was 3-for-3, scoring twice.
Six Post 253 batters finished with multiple hits, compiling seven extra-base hits.
Tyler Martin got the start and took the loss on the mound for Jackson, giving up seven runs on 11 hits in four innings of work, striking out two and walking one.
"Tyler, he was OK. He made some pitches," Lewis said. "I tip the cap to [Festus]. They made some good adjustments. They had some 0-2 hits that were pretty good pitches. They've got a good-hitting club. They were just better tonight."
Braeden Dobbs and Coley Liembach threw in relief, going 2 and 3 innings, respectively. Dobbs allowed one run on one hit while Liembach gave up six runs on five hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
Even on a night marked by extended offensive struggles, Dobbs went 4-for-5 with three RBIs for Post 158. Jarrett Newell, coming off a big effort in Wednesday's win over Eureka, put together a 3-for-5 effort with a double.
Prater got the pitching win for Festus, allowing five runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits in 8 1/3 innings, with four strikeouts and a walk.
Zach Richardson threw 2/3 innings in relief to finish the game, allowing no runs on two hits.
Jackson (21-20) immediately found itself in a hole when Prater hit a one-out double in the first inning before a ground ball turned into an infield single when an attempt to look Prater back to second resulted in a failure to get Mann at first.
That set the table for Zac Meyer and Cameron Beck to hit back-to-back RBI singles to give Festus a 2-0 lead after half an inning.
Post 158 loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning, but couldn't get a clutch hit and left the runners stranded.
From there, Post 253 just kept packing on runs.
Festus got one more in the third before driving in four in the top of the fourth.
Post 253 loaded the bases for two-hole hitter Prater to knock in two runners with a double to left, and Mann drove in another two with a single to right.
That gave Festus a 7-0 lead, and was enough to end Martin's night on the hill.
Dobbs stepped in to pitch beginning in the fifth, but Post 253's advantage became 8-0, with Brennan Pryor hitting a one-out single, moving up when Dix was hit by a pitch and later scoring on a wild pitch.
A leadoff double by Sean McDowell set the table for another two Festus runs in the top of the seventh, making it a 10-0 game.
Needing to score to extend the game, Jackson finally found some offensive success in the bottom half of the seventh inning.
Jakoata Walther opened the inning with a double to left, moved up on a Liembach single and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Drew Brown.
With two outs, Newell doubled to right field before Dobbs drove in a pair of runs with a bouncer up the middle, cutting the gap to 10-3.
That did little to change the momentum of the game, as Festus answered back with four runs in the top of the ninth, using three hits and two walks to push the lead to 14-3.
Jackson finished the game on a positive note, picking up three hits and scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth -- Martin hit a double and Newell and Dobbs each had RBI hits -- but it was nothing more than window dressing.
"I was proud of them. They battled back and scored, what? Five to finish the game," Lewis said. " ... We kept playing and battled and I was proud of the way we kept battling."
Lewis said he will wait and see who the opponent will be before deciding on a starting pitcher for tonight.
WP -- Blain Prater. LP -- Tyler Martin. 2B -- Prater (F) 2, Sean McDowell (F) 2, Chandler Dix (F), Zac Meyer (F), Jarrett Newell (J), Martin (J), Jakoata Walther (J). Multiple hits -- Festus: Jaden Courtois 2-5, Prater 3-5, Collin Mann 3-6, Meyer 2-5, McDowell 2-6, Dix 3-3; Jackson: Newell 3-5, Braeden Dobbs 4-5.
- Photos from the game (07/20/17)