Looking to make some positive strides this season, the Jefferson R7 Blue Jays stumbled a bit, but got right back up in their opening series.
They got down early against the West County Bulldogs in the first game, and while they mounted a late rally, it wasn’t enough, leading to a 9-4 loss. The next game against the Crystal City Hornets, was pretty much the exact opposite, but in a good way. The Blue Jays went up early and fended off a Hornet comeback to take the 9-6 win in a shortened four-inning contest.
The opener got off to a rocky start with the Bulldogs plating five runs in the first two innings, including four-run second, but the Jefferson offense woke up in the third. Max Schnitzler started things off with a double and quickly came around to score on a Garrett Lalumondier single. Two batters later Gavin Theodoro drove him home with sharp single to left, and just like that the Jays were on the board.
Unfortunately West County struck right back with four more in the top of the fourth. That made it 9-2 and left Jefferson with just one inning to try and come back. Kole Williams led off with a double and streaked home after Schnitzler smoked a single into centerfield. The speedy shortstop then stole home for the final tally of the game.
Four runs in four innings is not bad for a team that struggled offensively last year, but the pitching was a bit rusty in this one. AJ Ciliberto got the start and gave up all nine runs (seven earned) in 3.1 innings, but he wasn’t helped by five Jefferson errors in the field. He didn’t help himself much either, issuing five free passes, but chalk this one up to an off day on the mound.
The second game of the double-header was much more to the Blue Jays’ liking, as they jumped out early this time with a five-run first. Singles by Schnitzler and Lalumondier started off the game and then Schnitzler stole third and came racing home on an error by the pitcher. Ciliberto walked and stole second before being driven in by Sam Stokes. A two-base error then scored them both, followed by a wild pitch and an error on the Hornet catcher to make it 5-0.
The Jays really took advantage of Crystal City miscues, scoring on another passed ball in the second, and running wild on the basepaths after working walks at the plate. Theodoro made it 7-1 with an RBI double and then stole home to make it 8-1, before Stokes drove in a run with a sac fly as the final tally for Jefferson. The Hornets scratched out six late runs, but the comeback fell well short ,and R7 had their first win in the books.
Lalumondier was the only player with multiple hits in this one, going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, but the Blue Jays got contributions across the board. Stokes had a pair of RBI and stole three bases in a game in which Jefferson swiped 10 total bags. Williams got the start and allowed all six runs (four earned) on five hits and four walks against five Ks in 3.1 IP. Theodoro, who had two steals and an RBI, came in to get the final two outs and earn the save.
The Jays have a pair of games this week against North Point and Valle Catholic to try and add some more wins to their 2023 resume.