Jays take fifth at tournament

At Capital City Invitational

Jefferson City head coach Brian Ash was happy with his team’s 2-1 performance in the Capital City Invitational.

He’d just like them to make things less interesting along the way.

The Jays fell behind to Blue Spring 2-0 in Saturday’s fifth-place game before rallying for an 8-2 win at the American Legion Sports Complex.

That seemed to be the mystery of the tournament as the Jays fell behind in all three games, but rallied to win two of the three.

“We know we’re capable of putting up some runs in a hurry, we’d just like to do it before the sixth or seventh inning,” Ash said.

But in the entire tournament, including Saturday’s game, Jefferson City’s starting pitching kept the Jays within striking distance.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, Jefferson City starter Steven Coots settled down. Coots, who threw six innings, allowed just one runner to reach second after the first inning. He allowed six hits while hitting one batter and walking three.

With three games in two days, only Corey Beard, Travis Hennessy and Coots had to pitch significant innings.

And on a day when the wind was gusty enough to blow off Coots’ hat multiple times, he got the job done.

“They battled in some tough conditions with the wind and the dust flying around,” Ash said. “He battled and he was able to keep those guys off balance. Travis and Cory, they did a really good job the last two days.”

Jefferson City, which was the visiting team, got on the board in the second. Sam Atkinson led off the inning with a triple and later came around to score on an RBI single by Rylie Klosterman.

The Jays took the lead in the fourth with a little bit of controversy. Atkinson was balked to second by Blue Springs starter Alex Duvall. Duvall continued through with his pitch and the umpire called it a ball instead of a dead ball. Grunden walked on what should have been ball three.

Klosterman, who had four hits, came through again with a bloop single to right on the next pitch to tie the score at 2. Jefferson City then took the lead when Grunden stole home on a delayed steal.

“It seems like we always get down first and we have to claw back,” Ash said. “It would be nice if we could get a little more consistent with a run or two every inning.”

The Jays added a run in the sixth on an RBI single by Dylan Brauner before breaking the game open in the seventh when they sent eight batters to the plate and scored four runs. The big hit of the inning came on a three-run double by Klosterman, his fifth RBI of the game.

“That was big,” Ash said. “Riley had a really big day. He’d kind of been struggling a little bit. He stuck with it and stuck with it and finally today he put some balls in play and hit it hard and had a big day.”

Atkinson finished with two hits and Cameron Carroll pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Jays who are back in action Saturday with a doubleheader against Lee’s Summit and Lee’s Summit North at Vivion Field.

The tournament continued a strong start to the season for the Jays, who are now 10-2 on the season.

“Just the outlook completely from the whole season to this point, you came in the season saying we’d be 10-2 after the Capital City Tournament, that would be good,” Ash said. “I’m disappointed we weren’t playing for a title, but we were able to get the consolation, and it’s nice because there are only three teams who have at least two wins or more and we were one of those teams.

“To come out with two wins, it was good and we’re happy.”

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