It’s been a rough ride so far for the Jefferson R7 Varsity Baseball team. The struggling Blue Jays played twice in the past week and lost the first game to Greenville before turning it around and blowing out Grandview in a big win. Jefferson has been playing well, but has had difficulty consistently scoring runs, leading to a below .500 record at the midpoint in the season.
In the first game, Jefferson played Greenville on Saturday, April 9th. The Blue Jays held firm with strong pitching and kept the game locked at two after the first five innings. However, the defense didn’t do the team any favors, combing for four errors in the game, including three in the bottom of the sixth that led to a massive five-run rally for Greenville. Those five runs were more than enough, as Jefferson had no answer in the seventh, and lost the game 7-2.
One of the few bright spots offensively was leadoff batter Jack Hueter who had a nice showing with two hits and a walk in three at-bats. Also seeing the ball well, AJ Ciliberto drove in the two Blue Jay runs with a double in the third inning.
Hueter also toed the slab for the Jays, and despite the loss, his pitching was stellar. He went five innings and allowed only two earned runs on four hits. Sam Stokes, unfortunately, took the loss in his one inning of work, giving up five runs in the dreaded three-error sixth inning. Zero of those runs were earned.
The Blue Jays had two days to regroup and recover before traveling to Grandview on Tuesday, April 12th. The days off did Jefferson a world of good as the team came to life. The game began evenly matched with both teams playing good fundamental baseball, keeping it 0-0 through two. Then, Gavin Theodoro took a walk setting up Cole Robinson for an RBI double in the top of the third to break the scoring drought. Max Schnitzler drove Robinson home to earn a 2-0 lead for his team. That would be all the Blue Jays needed, but after a walk and a single in the fourth, Theodoro doubled to drive in two more.
Jefferson would tack another on in the fifth, capitalizing on a Grandview error, leading to a big three-run sixth, started by another Theodoro double to drive in a run. Robinson then hit a rope to left field which drove in two more, to give the Blue Jays an 8-0 lead.
In hindsight, Grandview probably wished they’d have given up two more to take a mercy-rule loss after six because, in the seventh, the bats exploded for Jefferson. The team took advantage of an early error and lit up their opposition for six runs, including a double by Hueter that scored two. The Jays notched the victory in grand fashion, winning 14-0.
Hueter again took his team on his back, notching two RBIs on three hits. Robinson also had two hits and a walk, with one RBI. Seemingly on the base paths all night, Theodoro scored three times on two hits and two walks, and also tallied two RBIs.
Pitching with a lead took the pressure off and allowed Ciliberto to relax and dominate. He was on-point this afternoon throwing 6.2 innings, giving up five hits, and two walks, but striking out four. He threw 94 pitches to pick up the win.
With the rest of the week rained out, Jefferson split the two games and now find themselves at 6-8 at about the midway point of the season. If the Blue Jays are going to make a run into the post-season, their bats and gloves need to find the ball more consistently, but with their pitching, they have the potential to beat a lot of good teams.