Ogletree lifts Jays over Helias

Jefferson City pitcher Cameron Carroll makes his delivery from the stretch as Helias baserunner Cole Distler (lower left) extends his leadoff from second base in the top of the third inning of Saturday's tilt between the Jays and the Crusaders at Vivion Field.

Jefferson City pitcher Cameron Carroll makes his delivery from the stretch as Helias baserunner Cole Distler (lower left) extends his leadoff from second base in the top of the third inning of Saturday's tilt between the Jays and the Crusaders at Vivion Field. Photo by Kris Wilson.

The first 7 1/2 innings were a series of jabs between the Jefferson City Jays and Helias Crusaders.

In the bottom of the eighth Saturday, Brenden Ogletree finally got the knockout blow.

The Jefferson City junior rapped a one-out double off the fence in left-center to bring home two runs to lift the Jays to an 11-10 victory against the Crusaders at Vivion Field.

“Resiliency is one of the words I will use to describe these kids because there were a lot of times we could have just given in,” Jefferson City coach Brian Ash said. “These kids fought and believed they could come back no matter what the deficit was.”

For the Crusaders, it was a game they believed slipped through their fingers.

“Neither team quit, they just made more plays defensively than we did and that’s why they won the game,” Helias coach Chris Wyrick said. “It’s no mystery why they won, they played better defense.”

The lead changed hands several times in the late innings.

A three-run Helias fourth keyed a 6-2 Crusader advantage heading into the bottom of the fifth. The Jays scored four times in that inning to tie it, then added a run in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-6 lead.

Helias scored twice in the top of the seventh to regain the lead, only to see Jefferson City send it to extra innings with a run in the bottom of the frame. The Crusaders scored twice in the top of the eighth before the Jays won it with three runs in their half.

“That’s what this rivalry is about,” Ash said. “When you think you’ve given the knockout punch, the next thing you know, you’re right back in it because you kept grinding it out.”

Brock Gerstner led off the Helias eighth with a walk and moved to second on an infield single by Hayden Lee. Alex Barton then grounded back to the mound and Jays pitcher Corey Beard threw to third for the force, but the ensuing toss to first was wild as Lee scored to make it 9-8.

A walk and another error loaded the bases before Jared Bentlage lofted a sacrifice fly to left to make it 10-8.

Bentlage, who has been nursing a sore arm, came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth for a depleted Helias pitching staff.

“There was nobody else to pitch and he said his arm felt good enough to go,” Wyrick said.

Jake Pridgin, the Jays’ No. 9 hitter, led off the inning and drew a walk.

“We knew if he got on, we were going to be in business,” Ash said.

Dylan Brauner followed with a single to put runners at the corners. A wild pitch scored Pridgin and moved Brauner to second. One out later, Hayden Strobel drew a walk to bring Ogletree to the plate.

Ogletree lined the first pitch he saw off the fence in left-center as Brauner and Strobel scored to end the game.

“(Ogletree) will get a lot of those because he’s got quick hands,” Ash said. “I’m happy for him, he struggled a lot today and he’s hard on himself, but this should give him a lot of confidence going forward.”

Beard got the win, working the final three innings. Steven Coots started, but left with a blood blister after working to two batters in the third inning.

“If he stays in the game, I don’t think we’re in the situation of being down that much that early,” Ash said. “He can work out of situations.”

Cameron Carroll and Bret Jaegers also pitched in relief for the Jays.

Rylie Klosterman had four hits to pace Jefferson City to go along with three RBI. Ogletree also drove in three runs.

“We did what we had to do to win this game,” Ash said.

Cole Distler started for Helias and worked into the fifth. In addition to Bentlage, Andy Devine and Austin Sachse came on in relief for the Crusaders.

Lee led Helias with four hits. Distler had a three-run double in the third for Helias.

“We don’t make excuses,” Wyrick said. “First day or 15th day of practice, you should still be able to play catch. Throw it and catch it, there were times we couldn’t do that. We weren’t prepared and it was my fault.”

III

The Jays are off to a 2-0 start after edging the Glendale Falcons 3-2 in the first game Saturday.

Travis Hennessy threw six innings to get the win for Jefferson City.

“He had pretty good command and kept his pitch count pretty well in control despite throwing six innings,” Ash said.

Carroll worked the seventh to get the save for the Jays (2-0), who are scheduled to play Tuesday at Waynesville.

“It can’t get any better than (a 2-0 start),” Ash said “We want a fast start to where we’re not playing on our heels.”

III

In the second game Saturday, Helias dropped a 6-5 decision to Glendale.

Distler had three hits for the Crusaders, while Bentlage drove in three runs.

Matt Rehagen was the starter, working 5 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits. Sachse pitched the final 1 2/3 innings. Helias committed four errors in the game.

“All we stressed in practice was playing catch and we didn’t do that in either game today and we’re 0-2.” Wyrick said. “We lost twice by one run because of it and ultimately, that falls on me because I obviously didn’t have them ready.”

Helias is off until Saturday when it will play Kirksville and Quincy (Ill.) Notre Dame in a doubleheader on the road.

Accompanying photo: Jays pitcher Cameron Carroll

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