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Jays utilize seventh-inning rally to topple Comets

Jefferson City starting pitcher Corey Beard follows through on his delivery while working the middle innings against Fatima Comets during Friday’s game at the American Legion Sports Complex.

Jefferson City starting pitcher Corey Beard follows through on his delivery while working the middle innings against Fatima Comets during Friday’s game at the American Legion Sports Complex. Photo by Kris Wilson.

For six innings, Fatima pitcher Patrick Schnieders handcuffed Jefferson City’s offense.

The Jays had just two hits as the Comets took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh.

But an error on a potential double-play ball and a pinch-hit single by Adam Grunden undid six innings of mastery in a matter of minutes.

The Jays (9-2) scored the winning run on a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to rally past Fatima 3-2 in a loser’s bracket semifinal of the Capital City Invitational on Friday at the American Legion Sports Complex.

“That young man threw a (heck) of a ball game,” Fatima coach Scott Kilgore said of Schnieders. “He threw a gem. It’s one of those situations where the breaks didn’t go our way. They really didn’t.”

Jays pitcher Corey Beard matched zeros with Schnieders until the sixth inning, when the Comets broke through. Reid Kesel broke the tie with an RBI double to deep left-center field to put Fatima up 1-0. He would later come around to score on an RBI single by Logan Vogel.

The way things were going, it looked like it would be enough for the Comets. Going back to the first game of the day, Jefferson City had just two hits in its last 10 innings.

Gabe Marcantonio’s single in the second inning and Brenden Ogletree’s bloop in the sixth were Jefferson City’s only hits against Schnieders until the seventh.

But Jefferson City rallied by getting its leadoff hitter on base for the first time all game when Sam Atkinson was hit by a pitch. Then, a tailor-made double play ball was botched, giving the Jays runners at first and second with no outs.

After a sacrifice bunt by Ripken Dodson moved the runners to second and third, Grunden stepped in and delivered off the bench with a shot up the middle to tie the score at 2.

“He’s engaged in the game whether he’s playing or not because he knows he can swing a little bit,” Jefferson City head coach Brian Ash said of Grunden. “Just looking down the line, we’ve got to try something. Sometimes when you get a younger kid who’s anxious and wants to prove something, sometimes those things work out and he put a really good swing on it with two strikes.”

Schnieders, who struck out four, came out after 61⁄3 innings.

Nolan Bax entered to face Dylan Brauner, who reached on an infield single. That was followed by an intentional walk to Beard, which set up the final wild pitch.

“To hold them to two runs, that was important because we knew we’re going to have to scratch something across,” Ash said. “That kid Schnieders is about as good as any kid we we’ve seen all year. He’s talented. That’s a big win for us.”

While there was elation on one side, it was tough for the other side to take.

“You walk the leadoff guy in the seventh or a kid gets a clutch hit, that’s baseball,” Kilgore said. “It’s going to happen. And it’s hard to stomach. Those kind of losses are really hard to stomach.”

“However I’m proud of our kids because we competed well. We’re not supposed to beat the Jeff City's, we’re not supposed to beat the Helias', we came in and competed well in that game.”

Beard pitched a complete game for the Jays, matching Schnieders pitch-for-pitch as the Comets (4-3) outhit the Jays 6-4. Beard pitched out of trouble as the Comets left nine runners on base.

That was ultimately the difference, as Fatima left a runner on third base in three innings, and had a runner in scoring position in five innings.

Kesel had three hits to lead the Comets, who outhit the Jays 6-4.

It was the fifth game this week for Fatima.

“Those are hard games to lose, hard games to stomach,” Kilgore said. “What I told them was to reflect back to what they could have done differently. There were times where we pressured several innings in a row where we couldn’t get those runs across. We did a lot of reflection.”

Jefferson City takes on Blue Springs in the fifth-place game at 12:30 p.m. today at the American Legion Spots Complex.

Fatima will play Blair Oaks for seventh-place at 10 a.m. today at the American Legion Sports Complex.

III

Jefferson City’s first-round game could be categorized as a series of missed opportunities.

The Jays left 11 men on base, including the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a 7-5 defeat to Eureka at Vivion Field.

“They capitalized when they had runners in scoring position more than we did,” Jefferson City head coach Brian Ash said.

It caught up to the Jays in the final inning.

Down 7-4, Jefferson City put together one last rally. After a strikeout to open the seventh, Marcantonio singled for his third hit. Atkinson walked, followed by a single by Klosterman to load the bases.

The Jays made it 7-5 on a walk to Jake Pridgin to make it 7-5. But a strikeout and a fly out to center field ended the game.

The Jays took a 2-1 lead in the first on a two-run double by Marcantonio. Eureka grabbed a 3-2 lead with a two-run single by Connor Pahl in the top of the second.

The Jays immediately tied the game in the bottom of the second with an RBI single by Beard. Both teams scored single tallies in the fourth before Eureka took the lead in the sixth and added two more in the seventh.

Dylan Brauner had two hits for the Jays.

Jays starter Travis Hennessy allowed six runs (five earned) while striking out six in six-plus innings.

III

In their first game of the day, the Comets fell behind 5-0 to Hickman and eventually dropped an 11-4 decision to the Kewpies at the Legion Complex.

After the Kewpies got a run in the first, they made it 5-0 after two thanks to a grand-slam home run from Colby Fitch.

It stayed that way until the top of the fourth, when the Comets scored all of their runs on three hits and two errors by the Kewpies. Kesel had an RBI single in the frame, while Bax also drove in a run. The other two runs scored on errors, cutting the lead to 5-4.

But the Kewpies struck right back, scoring five runs in the bottom of the fourth to make it 10-4. They got their final run in the fifth thanks to a walks, a wild pitch, a dropped third strike and a sacrifice fly.

The Comets managed just three hits in the contest — the aforementioned single by Kesel and singles by Ryan Mebreur and Schnieders. All of the hits came in the fourth inning.

Gage Kiesling got the win, pitching an 85-pitch masterpiece. He struck out five and walked four.

Seth Lehmen started and took the loss for Fatima. He failed to get an out in the fourth inning and left after throwing 92 pitches. He allowed nine earned runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out four.

Ben Holterman finished up and allowed two earned runs on four hits over three innings. He struck out four and walked one.

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