The Jackson Indians made some history on Saturday, and they leaned on their two aces to get the job done. Caden Bogenpohl and John-Paul Sauer both pitched brilliantly in a 5-1 win over the Lafayette Lancers in the first round of the Class 6 State Tournament. The win sends the Indians to their first Final Four appearance, and the sky would appear to be the limit.
In front of a jam-packed crowd in Jackson, the Indians put on a show on Saturday. It wasn’t one of their signature mercy-rule bloodbaths, but the Tribe got it done with pitching, defense and timely hitting against a very good Lafayette squad steeped in High School baseball history.
The Lancers played in one of the toughest districts in the state this year and did well to make it to the State Tournament, but they were no match for the deadly duo that Jackson trotted out to the mound. Bogenpohl got the start and tossed four innings of one run ball and struck out five.
Bogey allowed just three hits in the contest, but was a little wild with his command, walking four batters. That elevated his pitch count and forced the Indians to go to the pen. Thankfully they had another ace ready take the ball in Sauer, and he didn’t mess around. He allowed just a hit and a walk with four Ks in the final three frames without allowing a runner to cross the plate and earned the save.
As for the offense in this one, it was… unconventional to say the least. The Indians scored five runs, and in each instance, the ball never left the infield. The game was scoreless until the fourth when the Lancers took a brief lead with a bases loaded walk to go up 1-0, but Jackson had some resolve in them. They came back with three bizarre tallies in the bottom of the inning.
With ducks on the pond Baden Hackworth was caught in a rundown at third, then when a second rundown shifted to first base Hackworth streaked home. Jack Wyatt drove in a run with a bunt and Henley Parker got an infield single that drove in a run. Walks, bunts, infield hits and chaos on the bases gave the Tribe their first lead of the game, and it would stick.
Then in the sixth Jackson tacked on some much needed insurance runs on an error and an RBI infield single by Cooper Rhodes. That made it 5-1 and Sauer took care of the rest. Bogenpohl got the win, Sauer got the save and the Indians are moving on.
It’s also worth noting that congratulations are in order for Bogey, who notched his 100th strikeout of the season in the game. Incredibly impressive considering he has only thrown 58 innings this year.
Ameritime Sports caught up with Head Coach Josh Roach and asked him what the turning point in the game was. He responded with this, “First off, I want to congratulate Lafayette on a very good season. They were a difficult opponent. The moment in the game that changed the momentum to our side was Wyatt’s squeeze bunt. He started the engine and played a heck of a game. We weathered the storm and executed when we had to. Small-ball is not our game, but the game called for it today and we got it done.”
The Indians are now headed to their first ever Final Four, but they will have a tough task taking on the 30-10 Francis Howell Vikings, who are ranked ahead of the Indians in the state tally. The two teams met once earlier this year and the Vikings got the better end of the deal with a 16-6 victory, so the Tribe will be out for revenge.
Coach Roach also spoke to the incredible season this team has had, and it’s pretty obvious from his response that it’s made a lasting impact. “Leading this group of young men has been amazing, and something that I will treasure for the rest of my coaching career, but it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge my two amazing Assistant Coaches that have been an integral part of this process, Coach Jeremy Smith and Coach Jason Chavez. To be able to make Jackson history at our Stadium in front of a giant hometown crowd is like a scene from a movie. It doesn’t get much better than that!”
The next biggest game in program history game will be on Friday at 4pm, and one would have to think that Bogenpohl and/or Sauer will be heavily involved again. The winner moves on for a chance to win state and the loser will have to settle for the third place game.
Good luck Indians!