It's the fine-tune time of the baseball season.
"We got really back to the fundamentals on Monday, and really the attention to detail stuff," Jefferson City baseball coach Kyle Lasley said as the Jays prepared for today's Class 6 quarterfinal game against the Republic Tigers. "We were inside our facility a couple days and did some mini group hitting where we just got guys in small groups and put a lot of focus on two-strike approach and execution, hit and runs, bunting."
The Jays and Tigers will battle for a spot in the Final Four at 2 p.m. today at Vivion Field.
Jefferson City cruised to the District 5 championship game with wins against Waynesville (11-1) and Helias (16-1), but it appeared the Jays were on their way to ending the season in district play for the third straight season.
"It really did," Lasley said. "But these guys, credit to them, we talk about it all the time and I've said this multiple times throughout the year, you play to the last pitch and it's not over until it's over. Credit these guys, they didn't give up, they stuck with it."
Jefferson City scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Blue Springs South Jaguars on May 20 in Sedalia to win 6-5, earning a spot in the quarterfinals for the first time sine winning the Class 5 state title in 2017.
With the sectional round being eliminated this season, Jefferson City (21-13) and Republic (21-9) had the luxury of more than a week to prepare for today's game.
Is that good or bad?
"I think maybe a little bit of both," Lasley said. "Obviously for just rest purposes, it helps out guys, just arms. But then again, the flip side of it is trying to keep these guys engaged and keeping them hungry to still play."
Jefferson City has scored 6.5 runs per game and allowed 3.8 runs per game this season.
The Jays' trio of Jacob Roettgen, Case Hager and Wyatt Fischer have helped the Jays get to this point in the season.
"We've got all this stuff on charts and spray charts and percentages and everything you can possibly imagine, but a lot of that stuff doesn't mean anything because it all depends on who's on that bump," Lasley said.
Republic went through Carthage (10-0), Ozark (6-3) and Joplin (13-3) in the District 6 Tournament.
Vincent Pyeatt, a senior shortstop and right-handed pitcher, pitched all six shutout innings against Carthage, allowing four hits and striking out five.
Senior right-handed pitcher Jared Hughes struck out eight in six innings against Ozark.
In the district title game against Joplin, sophomore right-hander Gavyn Beckner pitched 5 innings.
"I'm not sure if they really have a No. 1," Lasley said. "I think they maybe got a 1A, 1B and 1C. We're gonna go out there and compete against whoever's on the mound and see what happens."
Republic averages nearly eight runs per game, scoring at least 10 runs 12 times this season.
"They swing the bat really well," Lasley said. " Pretty consistent one through nine."
The Jefferson City-Republic winner will face either Francis Howell (29-8) or Fort Zumwalt West (33-4) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at U.S. Baseball Park in Ozark.