SEDALIA — Get a hit, move the runner over a base or two and leave him there. It became an ongoing cycle Thursday night for the Jefferson City Jays.
"We started getting down," Jays senior Jacob Roettgen said. "A couple of us were just telling us to keep our heads up and just keep going and something would happen and something happened."
Yes it did.
What was a light or steady rain for much of the game turned into a downpour in the bottom of the seventh inning. With the help from Mother Nature and a pair of key hits, Jefferson City scored all of its runs in the seventh and walked off with a 6-5 victory against the Blue Springs South Jaguars in the Class 6 District 5 championship game at Liberty Park Stadium.
A dropped fly ball in the outfield allowed Jeremy Parks to get on base to start the bottom of the seventh. Tanner Schmitz followed with a walk, Connor Earleywine got his second hit of the game on a grounder through the left side and the Jays were in business with the bases loaded.
"We never gave up and just kept on trucking," Roettgen said.
A hit by pitch and a walk brought home two runs. Then Roettgen pulled the ball through the right side for a single that scored two more runs.
"I choked up on my bat, I shortened up my swing and I just wanted to put it in play," Roettgen said.
After Nick Williams walked, courtesy runner Hayden Wells scored the tying run on a wild pitch.
Ethan Watson, the second pitcher to take the mound for the Jaguars in the inning, got a strikeout and a popout to bring up Parks for a second at-bat in the inning.
With the heavy rain making it difficult to get a good grip on the ball, a pitch bounced just in front of the catcher and hopped away to allow courtesy runner Will Berendzen to casually stroll across the plate for the game-winner.
"I think a big factor," Jefferson City coach Kyle Lasley said when asked how much the rain affected the outcome. "Maybe some emotions, high emotions for those guys with things starting to kind of get pretty tight. Maybe they felt that a little bit, but our guys stood in there and we competed and the dugout stayed in it. That's what it's all about."
The rain was light for the most part, but it became steady in the fifth and led to Roettgen struggling to get the ball dry enough to execute pitches.
However, a leadoff walk was negated after catcher Joe Hoerchler picked off the runner. After a groundout and a single, Roettgen struck out the next batter swinging at a fastball high and outside.
"I trusted my fastball the most," Roettgen said. "It was a little too slick for my curveball. I threw a couple changeups, but mostly just fastball."
The rain wasn't expected to stop during the evening, but with it mostly being light showers, it was determined the game should continue.
"The umpire told me earlier in the game that we weren't stopping the game," Lasley said. "It's gonna be like this the rest of the game, so we're going to play it out and I wasn't going to let him change it."
Roettgen struck out four, walked four and allowed a run on two hits in four innings of relief of starter Case Hager.
Blue Spring South's Trenton Roethier was in control for the Jaguars, allowing five hits, striking out four and walking one in six shutout innings.
Grant Hollister took the mound to start the seventh before Watson recorded two outs.
"That's the hardest it rained all night and it was definitely a little slick," Roettgen said of the bottom of the seventh inning. "I feel kinda bad for that pitcher."
Hager was able to mix in breaking pitches in his three innings of work, striking out five but walking three and allowing four runs (zero earned) on three hits.
Earleywine and Williams combined for four of the top-seeded Jays' seven hits.
Blue Springs South, the No. 3 seed, ends its season at 15-17.
Jefferson City (21-13) advances to the state quarterfinals, which will be played Saturday, May 29. Jefferson City will match up against the Republic Tigers (21-9), who defeated Joplin 13-3 on Thursday to win the District 6 title as the No. 2 seed.