Jefferson City's first-round game Friday afternoon in the Capital City Invtational 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, the Jefferson rallied. After a strikeout to open the seventh, Gabe Marcantonio singled for his third hit. Sam Atkinson walked, followed by a single by Rylie Klosterman to load the bases.
The Jays then scored a run with one out on a bases-loaded walk to Jake Pridgin to make it 7-5. But a strikeout and a fly out ended the game.
The final inning was a microcosim of how the game went for Jefferson City. After getting seven hits in the first three innings, the Jays had two the rest of the way, both in the seventh inning.
After tagging Eureka starter Adam Schnurbusch for three runs in three innings, Eureka relief pitcher Blake Clynes shut down the Jays, allowing just two runs (one earned) and two hits in the final four innings.
"Bottom line is we stopped hitting after the third inning," Ash said.
Ash said the offensive problems late in the games were a matter of being undisciplined.
"We've got to understand our strike zone and what we can and can't hit," he said. "We've got guys going up there that for whatever reason they are guessing instead of reacting."
The game was a back and fourth affair from the beginning.
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 tied the game in the bottom of the second with an RBI single by Corey Beard. Both teams scored single tallies in the fourth before Eureka caught a break in the sixth.
With a runner on second and two outs, Eureka's Michael Allmon hit a ball to the left side, it bounced off of first baseman Hayden Strobel's glove, but second baseman Corey Beard snagged the ball and reached first on a bang-bang play that would have ended the inning.
Ash argued the call to no avail. Schnurbusch lined a single to center on the next pitch to give Eureka the lead. The Wildcats added tow more insurance runs in the seventh.
"I saw that Corey beat him to the bag and he was out," Ash said. "That's what I saw. Unfortunately the umpires don't see it that way and the only thing that matters is what they call. He called them safe. Obviously they capitalized and that was a big play in the game, a big momentum changer."
Jays starter Travis Hennessy allowed six runs (five earned) while striking out six in six-plus innings.