In the truest of statements, the Jefferson R7 Blue Jays have had a middling season in 2023. They won two huge games early in the week, but fell to a blistering-hot Hillsboro club to finish the regular season at an even 12-12. Twelve games you love and 12 you’d like to have back can be a frustrating roller coaster, but this young team has had some nice moments.
Two of those were wins this week against St. Clair and Gateway. The Blue Jays crushed the Bulldogs 12-2, and then obliterated Gateway 15-0 to move above .500. They would drop back to even the next day though, as a 19-4 Hillsboro squad was just too much to handle.
The week kicked off on Senior Night and the Jays would open the scoring in their game against St. Clair with a Max Schnitzler RBI double to take a 1-0 lead in the second. AJ Ciliberto doubled that total in the second with a run-scoring single and Jefferson was off to the races.
They added two in the fourth before opening the floodgates in the fifth with a six-run inning. Gavin Theodoro had a big double and Cole Robinson drove in a run with a base-knock, while the rest of the Blue Jays took advantage of Bulldog errors and drew patient base on balls. They finished off the Dogs with two more in the sixth for a 12-2 win.
Schnitzler had a huge game with a 3-for-3 effort that included three runs scored, two RBI and two steals. Theodoro, Robinson and Brady Sadler each had two hits and Sam Stokes and Robinson each drove in a pair.
Ciliberto was on the mound and had a brilliant start. He went all six innings for the victory and allowed just four hits while compiling a 4/0 K/BB ratio.
That was a big win in the books for the Jays, and they carried that momentum into their next contest against Gateway. Maybe even a little too much. They were certainly charged up, churning out nine runs in the first inning alone, making this one last just three innings.
The Gateway hurlers couldn’t find the strike zone and Jefferson used a cavalcade of walks to immediately break the game open. James Heberlie and Matthew Wood each drove in a run with a single as well. Five more runs in the second would continue the shellacking. Landon Weiss barreled up with an RBI single and Mikey Frisk drove in one with a base hit as well before Heberlie doubled in another.
Gateway was completely stymied and didn’t record a hit in the abbreviated three-inning mercy ruling. Sadler got the win with two clean innings and the Jays took it home 15-0. Weiss and Heberlie each had a pair of RBI and seven different players recorded at least a hit. As a team the Jays drew 10 walks and stole seven bases.
That would be the extent of the good news for the week, as the aforementioned tilt with Hillsboro did not go as planned, but Jefferson hung in there. R7 actually struck first in the game with a pair in the top of the opening inning, thanks to a fielder’s choice RBI from Robinson and a Theodoro sac fly.
The Hawks would tie it with a pair in the bottom of the second and then take the lead with two more in the third, but the Blue Jays would tie it up. They used a Kole Williams RBI single and a Garrett Lalumondier bases-loaded walk to knot the game at 4-4.
Hillsboro would respond with three in the bottom of the fifth though and put this one to bed. Robinson got the start, and pitched well, but was burned by errors, allowing four runs (just one earned) in four innings of work.
It just wasn’t in the cards for the Jays in this one, but they still had a positive week and managed to close out the regular season with a .500 record. They will try and make some noise in the District Tournament this weekend as the third seed.