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Jays tally game’s lone run in bottom of seventh in win vs. Cavs

by Trevor Hahn | March 23, 2023 at 12:41 a.m.
Jefferson City pitcher Jordan Martin looks toward the plate during Wednesday night's game against Capital City at Vivion Field. (Trevor Hahn/News Tribune)

All runs count the same and teams will take them any way they are given.

That is exactly how the Jefferson City Jays felt Wednesday night, as they picked up a 1-0 victory against the Capital City Cavaliers after a balk call pushed across the winning run in the seventh inning at Vivion Field in Central Missouri Activities Conference play.

“Wins are wins,” Jefferson City coach Kyle Lasley said. “When you’re playing at this high of level, you’ll take a win any way you can get them. … That was a very well-played high school game. It was fun to be a part of.”

Runs were hard to come by all night, as Jefferson City’s Jordan Martin and Capital City’s Brian Pace went back and forth on the mound.

Pace, making only his second career varsity start on the mound, gave his team everything it could have asked for and more.

He finished with five strikeouts in his six-plus innings while allowing one run on four hits and three walks.

“For him to come in here in a big game, a rivalry game, a conference game, a district game, I am very, very happy with him,” Capital City coach Brett Skinner said. “… Just a phenomenal job, that’s something he can definitely build off of going forward this season.”

On the other side, Martin was lights out for the Jays for as long as his pitch limit let him go.

In his four innings on the mound, he struck out seven while allowing just two hits and no walks on 53 pitches.

“It’s early for him, obviously we had him on the pitch count, so he was probably throwing more fastballs at this time of year than he would in the middle-to-late part of the year,” Lasley said. “He is who he is. We know at the end of the day that he is going to give us everything he has at the end of the year.”

The Cavaliers picked up their two hits off Martin in the top of the first inning, both coming on fastballs.

Noah Nicklas and Justin Sullens each found a fastball early in the count over the plate and picked up two hard-hit line drives up the middle for singles to put runners on first and second with two outs, but Martin was able to escape the early trouble with a groundout to Charlie Morgan at second base.

“We were hunting fastballs, we wanted to work counts and wanted to get his pitch count up,” Skinner said. “We knew with it being his first time out that he wouldn’t throw very much. We just wanted to stay simple, hit the fastball, work the count and try to get him out of the game as quick as we could.”

The Jays had a golden opportunity to get to Pace in the second inning after loading the bases with nobody out.

Zac Arnold was hit by a pitch to start the frame, Brody Johns followed with a single to shallow right-center field and Cole Heller reached on a five-pitch walk.

But Pace found a way out, as an infield popout, a three-pitch strikeout and a inning-ending fielder’s choice ended the threat.

“After that he had all the confidence in the world and that just propelled him,” Skinner said.

The next two innings went by in a hurry, as Martin retired the final 10 batters he faced while Pace stranded a runner in both the third and the fourth.

This left Capital City in the position it wanted to be headed in, in a tie game and into the Jefferson City bullpen.

“That was a great feeling, just the fact that we installed a gameplan and followed it to a tee,” Skinner said. “I’m very proud of the guys. Stinks the way it ended but that’s baseball for you.”

Ethan Lipp entered the game to pitch for the Jays and threw the next 2⅓ innings.

Lipp worked around a leadoff single in the fifth and a pair of walks in the sixth before exiting for Dylan Wallace with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh.

“He’s a senior and at that time I looked at the other coaches and asked what they wanted,” Lasley said. “They said, ‘Let’s go Dylan. He’s a senior and let’s get him the ball.’ Dylan did a great job.”

After Hayden Carroll moved up to second base on the first pitch on defensive indifference, Wallace induced a groundball to Brody Johns at shortstop. Johns collected the ball cleanly and was able to throw out Blake Holtmeyer at the plate on a bang-bang play.

“Great play and really a great play by Mason (Wall), as well, to hang on with a runner coming full speed at you,” Lasley said.

After a hit by pitch loaded the bases, Wallace induced another groundball -- this time to Ryan Tadsen at third, who stepped on third to end the inning.

Ethan Garnett led off the bottom half with his first at-bat of the season and reached base via a hit by pitch.

After Tadsen sacrifice bunted him to second, Lipp walked and Tripp Maassen popped out, Martin was intentionally walked for the second time to load the bases for Wall.

“I have a feeling that’s going to happen a lot and that’s OK,” Lasley said. “… Guys behind him are just going to have to step up and take charge and do their job.”

Wall did not get the chance to come through with the big hit, as the first pitch was called off for the game-ending balk.

“He’ll be back in that spot again,” Lasley said.

Lipp, Martin, Johns and Heller all recorded hits for Jefferson City (2-0, 1-0 CMAC), and Wallace picked up his first win on the mound of his senior season.

Nicklas, Sullers, Holtmeyer and Carroll accounted for the Cavaliers’ four hits.

Capital City (0-3, 0-1) will be back in action at 4:30 p.m. today at Waynesville, while the Jays are off until their trip next week to Emerson, Ga., starting with a contest Monday against Westerville (Ohio).

The Cavaliers defeated the Jays 2-0 in the JV game Wednesday.


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