High profile matchups are always fun, and when you get two teams together that both have storied histories, drama seems to toe the line. That’s exactly what happened in Saturday’s tilt between the Jackson Indians and the DeSmet Spartans.
The Spartans travelled to Jackson for this one, and they were met with a rude awakening… having to face the Tribe’s ace in John-Paul Sauer. No opponent has been able to solve the hard-throwing right-hander this season, so DeSmet was faced with an uphill battle so steep they’d need an elevator.
The pitching matchup lived up to the billing the first three innings, as the Spartans had their ace on the mound as well, but Jackson was able to break the tie in the fourth with a Quinton Borders RBI single. Caden Bogenpohl led off with a walk, stole second and then the hard-hitting third baseman drove him home with a frozen rope to center.
The score would remain 1-0 until the sixth, when DeSmet finally broke through. They took advantage of a critical Indian error and were able to plate three unearned runs off of Sauer to take a 3-1 lead. The Tribe showed resolve though, and came back to tied the game at three in the bottom of the frame. With two outs and a runner on first, Borders came up again and deposited a 3-2 to pitch into the left field stands for a thrilling two-run bomb.
DeSmet wasn’t done pushing the envelope though. They scratched out two more runs in the top of the seventh to retake the lead at 5-3 and put them in position to steal this one, but Jackson had other ideas. Jack Wyatt and Grant Dotson each delivered 1-out singles to get the rally started, and then Henley Parker was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Fighting off pitch after pitch in a clutch 10-pitch at bat, Cooper Rhodes connected on a 3-2 offering, clubbing a two-run double to center to tie the game at 5.
The Spartans intentionally walked Bogenpohl to load the bases once again in hopes they could turn a double play, but there are no holes in this Jackson lineup, and guess who strolled up to the plate? Quinton Borders. The hero from earlier with the big two run homer, dug in and made the Spartan hurler sing for his supper. Working the count to 3-2 and fouling off several pitches to stay alive, the patient third baseman took ball four and forced Parker home from third for the walk-off victory.
The Indians mobbed the field and had themselves a thrilling 6-5 come-from-behind victory. Sauer didn’t get the win in this one (that went to Jaiden Glency in relief), but he went six innings, didn’t allow an earned run or a walk and struck out 10 Spartans.
Borders was the offensive hero, as he not only pushed in the winning run, but went 2-for-3 with a homer, a steal and four RBI. Rhodes was key as well with the game typing double in the seventh, and he and Dotson were the only other players with multiple hits.
The Indians have now won nine in a row and are up to a record-setting 25-6 performance this season. They will look to take the win streak to double digits on Monday when they take on a dangerous 18-7 Kelly Hawks team.