The wait is over! With a convincing 9-2 win over Mehlville on Saturday the Jackson Indians have won the Class 6 District 1 Championship. It’s their first District Title since 2018 and the first ever since they received a Class 6 designation. The Tribe continue to break records as the season is stretched with each additional victory.
This one was a mix of power and finesse, as sluggers Caden Bogenpohl and Baden Hackworth added to their single season records by putting on a home run clinic, and ace John-Paul Sauer was dominant again, solidifying his status as one of the best pitchers in the state. The Indians also moved to an all-time best record of 32-6.
First pitch was at noon and Jackson wasted no time at all getting on the board. After a perfect first inning from Sauer, Cooper Rhodes got the Indians on the board with an RBI double in the first. Then with two on and one out, Hackworth got into one and roped a double to left to clear the bases. 3-0 good guys after one.
The Tribe would tack on three more in the second, and they took advantage of some Mehlville defensive miscues. Rhodes popped one to left with two outs but the defender couldn’t handle it and Henley Parker came all the way around to score. Then came the fireworks. On an 0-2 count, Bogenpohl absolutely unloaded a blast to center for a two-run homer and a 6-0 lead. Teams should know by now you can’t give these Jackson boys extra outs.
The Panthers would get a run back in the fourth inning on an RBI groundout, but Jackson came right back with two more in the fifth. Hackworth led off the inning with a booming home run to center and then the Indians used the running game to pilfer another tally. A double steal of second and home by Jack Wyatt and Steven Schneider, respectively, gave the Tribe an 8-1 lead.
A couple of singles and an error led to an unearned run for Sauer in the sixth, but that was all the scoring that the Panthers could muster against the talented hurler. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the Bogey show continued. The towering right fielder muscled up and corked another long ball to center that probably still hasn’t landed, making it 9-2.
Sauer saw this one through and, despite a couple of singles, closed out the seventh inning for the win. His final strikeout of the game was an interesting one, as the Mehlville third baseman was set up at 0-2 and Sauer froze him with a dart right down the middle. The dejected Panther walked back to the dugout, but somehow the umpire had inexplicably called the pitch a ball.
If you’re proficient at lip reading you could see the third baseman saying “Are you kidding me? That was a strike.” Almost a running joke at this point, he reluctantly stepped back in the box and flailed at the very next pitch to “officially” go down on strikes.
Sauer got the last man to pop out on the infield, and waiting with bated breath, the Indians were on their toes to charge the field in celebration as the ball slowly came down. The catch was made, the dugout was emptied and the Indians mobbed each other on the diamond as the first District Championship for any of these young men finally became a reality.
Sauer was brilliant once again with a complete game victory that featured just five hits, no walks, one earned run and nine Ks. Hackworth extended the single-season RBI and doubles records with his 3-for-3, three-RBI performance, and Bogenpohl added to Jackson’s all-time home run record with two more long balls. He went 3-for-3 with three RBI as well, and has now gone yard four times in his last two games.
Wyatt went 2-for-3 and Rhodes went 2-for-4 with an RBI to account for the remaining Indian hits.
With some new hardware for the trophy case, the Indians will now shift their focus to the State Tournament. It begins next week, and while Jackson seems unbeatable having won 16 in a row, rest assured their competition will be stiff. They will take on the Lafayette Lancers, who have a storied baseball history, and are very competitive once again this season.
We’re all steeped in anticipation.
Click Here for the photo gallery from Districts https://ameritimesports.shootproof.com/gallery/21278454/