It's not too early to think about the district tournament. At least not for the Jefferson City Jays.
Consistency at the plate and efficiency on the mound are what the Jays are aiming for to be ready for when that time comes.
The Jay Baseball Classic gave Jefferson City somewhat of a postseason-type test with a 3-2 win against the Eureka Wildcats and a 5-4 victory against the Pembroke Hill Raiders on Friday at Vivion Field.
"Those are two gritty wins," Jefferson City coach Kyle Lasley said. "Just from the start of the first pitch to the last pitch, just competing every inning even when things didn't go as planned."
For the second straight start, Jays left-handed pitcher Case Hager went more than six innings without allowing more than two runs.
"Consistency-wise, he's probably our best arm right now," Lasley said of Hager, who didn't reach the pitch limit until there was one out left to get against Eureka. " We always talk about trying to get that first out in the inning and he's been able to do that."
Eureka got six hits off Hager and two unearned runs. Hager struck out six and walked two before Jacob Duke got the final out on an infield popup.
Duke also closed out the win against Pembroke Hill with a perfect seventh inning.
"He's just kind of fell into that role the last couple games and has done really, really good job of going in there and just throwing strikes and doing doing a good job of just competing," Lasley said. "He's a guy that's put a lot of time into it, so it's starting to pay off for him."
The Jays and Raiders went back and forth for the first three innings of the nightcap.
Joe Hoerchler went deep to right field for an RBI triple and Jacob Roettgen got an RBI double to fall just over the center fielder in the left-field gap in the first inning.
The teams combined for six runs in the second and third innings, with Phillip McMillin sending a line drive to center field to drive in a pair of runs with a single in the second and Spencer Hendren barreling up a pitch for a double to deep center field to add two more runs for the Raiders.
Connor Earleywine tied it at 4 in the third with an RBI single to left field, his second hit of the game for the Jays.
"He's a huge part offensively just because he's such a threat on the bases with his speed," Lasley said of Earleywine, who scored the first run against Eureka after a single, two stolen bases and a passed ball in the first inning. "Anytime he gets on base, I like our chance to score in that inning, especially with the guys hitting behind him."
Wyatt Fischer had a two-hit performance against Eureka, including an RBI double to take a 2-1 lead with two outs in the third.
A Jeremy Parks leadoff walk in the fourth turned into the go-ahead run after a Brayden Whittle sacrifice bunt, an Eli Moreland single and an error on an Earleywine ground ball.
The Jays and Raiders were tied at 4 for two innings before Nick Williams blistered a ground ball under the reach of the shortstop for an RBI single in the sixth.
Seven Jays had at least one hit against Pembroke Hill.
"I think a lot of those guys took the time in between games to go to the facility and work on some things and shortening up their swings," Lasley said.
Seven of Pembroke Hill's 10 baserunners against Jays pitcher Tanner Schmitz came before the fourth inning. From that point on, just one Raider got past first base.
Schmitz struck out eight and walked four while allowing four runs and three hits in six innings.
"You could tell he was locked in just the way he handled himself leading up to the game," Lasley said. " He had a little giddy-up on his fastball, which was really good to see. He's a very, very competitive kid, and when he finds it he's pretty good."
Jefferson City (10-2) will go for a 2-0 start in the Central Missouri Activities Conference on Tuesday when it hosts Battle (3-3-1) in the Spartans' CMAC debut.
Game time is 5:30 p.m.
"I think the biggest thing moving forward is just the consistency part, just making sure we're not having three or four innings in a row where we don't put pressure on defense," Lasley said.