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Jays top Cougars in first game at new home facility

by Trevor Hahn | April 7, 2023 at 12:45 a.m.
Jefferson City's Zac Arnold takes a swing at a pitch during Thursday night’s game against Lutheran: St. Charles in the Jays Baseball Classic at Jefferson City High School. (Josh Cobb/News Tribune)

It was a night of many firsts Thursday for Jefferson City High School.

The first baseball game on campus in school history, the first home run hit on the new field and the first win at the new field for the Jays as they beat the Lutheran: St. Charles Cougars 9-1 to open the Jays Baseball Classic.

“I’m very impressed, very thankful, blessed to have our own field here on campus,” Jefferson City coach Kyle Lasley said. “I want to thank everybody who has had a part in this because it takes an army to do something like this. It’s nice, it’s fun to be out here.”

Jefferson City struck first on its new field.

Playing as the away team, the Jays plated a run in the top of the first after Jordan Martin lined a single into left field to score Tripp Maassen, who reached on a fielder’s choice after Ethan Lipp led off with a walk.

“We have a goal in mind every game to score first,” Lasley said. “We always feel good going into a game if we can score first. It puts the pressure on the other team.”

The Cougars struck back with their only run of the game in the bottom half as Maassen was getting settled in on the mound.

Maassen hit the first batter he faced and allowed David MacLachlan to walk two batters later to put runners on first and second with one out. Ryan Leuthauser delivered for Lutheran to follow, driving his team’s only hit of the contest to right field for an RBI single.

Each starting pitcher settled down after the opening frame, with neither Brodie Short for the Cougars or Maassen for the Jays allowing more than one baserunner in the second or third innings.

But Maassen ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth, as back-to-back walks with one out led to runners being on the corners after Ryan Brettelle stole third.

Maassen was able to escape the jam, getting a strikeout on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before a first-pitch pop out in the infield for the third.

“He’s a competitor,” Lasley said. “It’s good to see him not get worked up in a situation like that where it’s the possible go-ahead run. He battled and threw a good pitch to get that kid out.”

And the Jays made Lutheran pay for the missed opportunity after Ryan Tadsen jumped on an 0-1 fastball and hooked it around the left-field foul pole and off the retaining wall above the fence for the first home run in park history.

“His thing is he caught a fastball early in the count and we haven’t been doing that, we have been letting too many fastballs go early,” Lasley said. “We’ve had a lot of success with jumping on the 0-0 fastballs and 0-1 fastballs. We have to be ready for everything.”

The home run gave Jefferson City a 2-1 lead and forced the Cougars into their bullpen for the sixth inning and beyond.

The Jays took full advantage of getting Short off the mound in the sixth as they tacked on an insurance run on an RBI single to Mason Wall to push the lead to two runs.

“I think he’s one of their top arms and I think he’s their best player all around,” Lasley said. “Just to get him out of the game and into their bullpen is good. That’s what we have to continue to do as the year goes on because we are going to see a lot of team’s No. 1s, and we have to get them to throw pitches and compete at the plate and see what happens.”

Maassen hustling out a bunt single set Jefferson City up for a monster frame at the plate in the top of the seventh.

After Tadsen and Lipp drew walks to lead off the inning, Maassen beat out a bunt to load the bases with nobody out and the Nos. 3-5 hitters coming up.

“He’s done that all year long,” Lasley said. “… We had the 3-hole coming up with (Martin), I felt good about the way things were going that inning.”

And the middle of the lineup came through, as the Jays ended up scoring six runs in the inning. Martin drove in two with a single, Dylan Wallace plated a pair with a deep single to left-center, Peyton Locke picked up an RBI with a bases-loaded walk and so did Lipp.

Maassen got the win on the mound for Jefferson City (7-3), striking out eight in five innings while allowing one run on one hit, five walks and a hit batter.

Wallace closed out the final two frames, allowing just a two-out walk in the sixth.

Martin led the way at the plate by driving in three runs to go along with his two hits.

Lutheran (1-8) will look to rebound at 12:30 p.m. today against Pembroke Hill at Jefferson City High School.

Jefferson City will look to add two more wins on its new home field today with a 10 a.m. contest against Timberland before an 8 p.m. game against Pembroke Hill to close out pool play of the Jays Baseball Classic.


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