It was a cold and windy night in Baseball Heaven on Sunday, but through chattering teeth, the Jackson Indians barreled up and took down the Edwardsville Tigers in the annual clash at Busch Stadium.
The Battle for Busch did not go the Indians’ way last year, but the Tribe shined in the home of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2023. Despite the almost-wintery conditions, these two clubs grinded out nine innings of baseball, and Jackson got their revenge with an 8-2 victory.
Untouchable ace John-Paul Sauer was on the mound this year, and once again, he did not disappoint. Having yet to allow an earned run all season, he kept that streak alive with seven brilliant innings for the victory. The Tigers did put one on the board in the top of the first, but the run was a direct result of a pair of errors to open up the game.
There may have been some jitters on the biggest of stages, and some memories of last year’s defeat, but the Indians got their ducks in a row after a wobbly first inning. Sauer continued to cruise after the unearned run in the first, and only allowed two batters to reach base the rest of the game.
Then the Tribe’s bats came to life.
The offense got things going in the fourth when Caden Bogenpohl launched an RBI triple into the right field gap to score Cooper Rhodes and tie the game at one. Quinton Borders then drove in Bogenpohl with a sharp single to short, before Landon Watkins brought Borders home with a single to left. That put Jackson up 3-1 and they never looked back.
Rhodes was on again in the fifth after an infield single. He promptly stole second and then came home on another RBI base-knock by Borders to make it 4-1. The speedy third baseman then advanced to third on a Baden Hackworth single, and after that just figured, “what the heck, I’ll steal home.”
The larceny at the plate gave the Indians a commanding 5-1 lead after five, and with Sauer cruising on the mound, things couldn’t be going better.
The Indians lifted Sauer after seven spectacular innings, and then decided they’d still provide him with some insurance runs. An RBI groundout from Kaden Kendle in the eight added to the tally and then back-to-back triples from Clayton Ernst and Jaiden Glency got the line moving again in the ninth. Glency dashed home on a wild pitch and Jackson had their 8-2 victory.
It was sweet revenge after last year’s lopsided loss and had to have warmed the hearts of the frozen-fingered Indians, who laid it all on the line in the House that Albert Built.
Sauer got the win with seven innings of three-hit ball. He didn’t allow an earned run, walked zero and fanned nine. It was a truly dominant performance to add to his glowing resume. Ernst pitched a scoreless eighth and Aidan Shaver closed out the ninth inning, which included a pair of punch outs.
Borders had an incredible day at the plate and on the base paths with a 2-for-3 effort, two RBI, two runs scored and three stolen bases. Rhodes, Bogenpohl, Garrison Brown, Hackworth, Watkins, Ernst and Glency all recorded a hit.
As a team, the Indians scored eight runs on nine hits and five walks. They stole seven bases and had four extra-base hits… all triples.
Things couldn’t have gone more swimmingly in this one and now Jackson is sitting comfortably at 15-5. They have won five straight will look to keep the streak alive this week with another busy seven days of baseball.