By STEVE WILAJ
In an effort to describe McDonald’s offense — which has been steady and productive all season — second baseman Christian Rusinowski thought for a moment, then gave his assessment.
“When we’re really feeling it, we’re very dangerous,” he said. “But when we’re not feeling it, we’re still dangerous. Even if a few of our kids aren’t hitting, then the other kids pick up the slack. One through nine, we’re solid hitters.”
In a Division IV district semifinal Wednesday at Cene Park, it’s safe to say the Blue Devils were “really feeling it,” as they defeated Jackson-Milton, 16-4. With the victory, McDonald advance to play Springfield in a district final at 6 tonight at Cene Park.
“Our guys like to see some pitches, wait on the things they like to hit and make them pay for it,” McDonald coach Matt Vukovic said. “It all boils down to them coming in every day, coming into practice on days off and they just want to keep batting. I feel like this is a big result from that.”
The Blue Devils (20-4) did most of their damage in an 11-run fourth inning.
Leading 5-4 entering the frame, the key plays were a two-run throwing error, a two-run single by Ben Carkido and a bases-loaded triple by Cameron Ifft.
“It’s top to bottom that we’re able to hit the ball,” Vukovic said. “If you want to walk somebody, we’re going to make you pay for it and we took advantage of those opportunities.”
Rusinowski led McDonald with three hits, three runs and two RBIs. Mike Schuller added two hits and scored four runs. Also, Ifft tallied two hits and four RBIs while Tom Rebraca had two hits, two runs and three RBIs.
“We’ve been solid hitting all year and today we just kept that up,” Rusinowski said. “We’re just confident in ourselves at the plate.”
Jackson-Milton starting pitcher Nick Woloschack (5-4) was roughed up for five runs (four earned) on five hits in 1 2/3 innings. Nate Clark relieved, lasting just 1 2/3 innings while allowing six runs (three earned).
“They’re a good hitting ball club,” said Bluejays coach Kevin Hogue. “We had to be able to go out there and hit with them and it didn’t happen today.”
Adam Jeffries had two hits and scored two runs to lead Jackson-Milton (17-11). Jeremy Fitzpatrick added a double and an RBI.
“We’re going to miss our two four-year starters Adam Jeffries and Chuckie Anderson,” Hogue said. “But we have a lot of young kids coming back and we’re expecting good things. Hopefully we can go ahead and stay at this level.”
Schuller (6-1) earned the victory for McDonald, pitching three innings while allowing four runs. The Blue Devils will send Mike Raschilla to the hill to face the Tigers, who defeated McDonald earlier in the season.
“We know they’re a real good ball club but we’re excited to play them,” Rusinowski said. “I think we’re 110 percent more prepared to face them compared to last time. We’re in a groove now, feeling good about ourselves and hitting the crap out of the ball.”