Grunden helps Jays past Blair Oaks
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Adam Grunden owns up to not executing a sacrifice bunt with a runner on second and no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
But the Jefferson City junior made up for it in a big way.
Grunden connected with an RBI double to give the Jays a one-run lead and Jefferson City held on to claim a 4-3 victory against Blair Oaks in final round of pool play in the Capital City Invitational on Saturday at Vivion Field.
“I was trying to get that bunt down and I was a little too aggressive, I’m not going to lie,” Grunden said. “I failed and then I had to step back up and get ready to hit.”
Grunden hit a 2-2 pitch that skipped over third base to score Jake Walker, who led off the inning with a double to left field.
It wasn’t just an ordinary double.
“The play of the game was Jake Walker,” Jefferson City coach Brian Ash said. “That’s a hustle double. Most kids are going to stop at first and he advanced to second. That’s the play of the game — that’s ultimately what won us the game.”
Freshman pitcher Jacob Weirich retired Blair Oaks in order in the top of the seventh to earn the win and hand the Falcons their first loss of the season.
“I was just trying to throw strikes, knowing that my defense was going to make plays behind me,” Weirich said. “I had full confidence in them.”
Weirich allowed one run on two hits and two walks in three innings in relief of Alex Johnson, who limited Blair Oaks to one earned run on seven hits and three walks.
Johnson found himself in a bases-loaded jam in back-to-back innings, but the senior left-hander was able to work out of both frames, allowing just one run.
“It’s very key because you’re really one pitch and one swing away from them having a three or four-run cushion,” Ash said. “That changes the whole complexity of the game. He kept us in it, and that’s what we needed him to do.”
Blair Oaks outhit the Jays 9-6, but the Falcons stranded 10 baserunners. Jefferson City stranded seven and both teams committed three errors.
“At times we played well and at other times we didn’t,” Blair Oaks coach Harv Antle said. “We can probably call that game a game of missed opportunities.”
Blair Oaks starting pitcher Logan Bax did his part for the Falcons. The senior allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, but hit four batters and walked one in six innings of work.
“He did a good job and we just didn’t support him as well as we could have, defensively or offensively,” Antle said. “Those are things that we will learn from and when we find ourselves in that position again, hopefully we can capitalize and come out on top.”
Bax led off the game with a single and advanced to third on an error. Cody Stegeman followed with an RBI single to center to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
Jefferson City had a quick response.
After recording two outs on six pitches, Bax hit three straight batters and Brenden Ogletree made him pay with a two run single to give the Jays a 2-1 edge in the bottom of the first.
Blair Oaks tied the game at two in the top of the second when Dalton Fifer connected with an RBI single to score James Reinkemeyer, who started the rally with a two-out double.
The Falcons loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Johnson recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning without allowing any damage.
“We left a lot of guys on base,” Antle said. “It’s something that’s going to happen and you’ve got to tip your cap to the opposing pitcher to make pitches in certain situations to get himself out of the jam.”
Reinkemeyer came through again in the top of the fifth with an RBI single to give the Falcons a 3-2 cushion.
Weirich led off the bottom of the fifth with an infield single and Jefferson City took advantage of an error to tie the game.
And for the second time in two days, the Jays were able to complete the rally.
“I think it shows a little bit of grit — that we are tough-minded and we can get it done when things aren’t always working our way,” Ash said. “In that phase, I’m happy.
“We’re still lacking offense and execution, but we can’t get any better pitching and defensive performances out there. If we start hitting remotely close to what we’re capable of doing, I think we separate ourselves a little bit more and don’t have to grit them out like that.”
Jefferson City was scheduled to play Rockhurst in the championship game on Saturday. But due to a scheduling conflict by the Hawklets, that game will take place at a later date, which hasn’t been announced.
The Jays (9-4) are scheduled to play at Battle on Tuesday, while the Falcons (10-1) will play at Fulton on Monday.
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