Jackson-Milton baseball blanks Sebring
By DAN HINER
Scoring opportunities were at a premium in the Division IV district baseball semifinal between Jackson-Milton and Sebring, but the Bluejays capitalized on enough opportunities to win 5-0 over the Trojans on Tuesday.
The game started on Monday, but was postponed in the top of the third inning due to thunderstorms. Jackson-Milton will meet Western Reserve in today’s district final at 6:30 p.m. at Cene Park.
Sebring (14-10) had a chance to take the lead early after left fielder Brett Weekly hit a one-out triple to deep center field in the top of the first inning. Weekly was stranded on third after right fielder Cody Dennis lined out to third base and catcher Branton Alex struck out.
Jackson-Milton (17-6-1) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning after back-to-back singles by pitcher Eric Ostrowski and shortstop Noah Lester. Ostrowki scored on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Justin Rentz, and Lester scored on a two-out single by third baseman Nate Clark.
The Bluejays scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-0 lead. With the bases loaded and one out, right fielder Matt Johns walked to drive in a run. In the next at-bat, center fielder Scott Mitchell hit a two-run single down to right field.
“When we need him, Scotty doesn’t really care where he hits — he just wants to hit. He’s been a .280 hitter all year. If you could get .280 out of your No. 9 hitter you’re happy,” Jackson-Milton head coach Kevin Hogue said.
Both offenses looked stagnant on Monday, but Jackson-Milton looked more aggressive when the game resumed on Tuesday. Ostrowski struck out four batters in the top of the third.
“Coach definitely drilled it into us and some of our senior leaders did too,” Ostrowski said. “They said, ‘It’s the third inning and we gotta get going. We only have 15 outs left.’ So I had it in my mind that I had to come out and be aggressive. There’s no easing into it. I gotta really get ready.”
Ostrowski pitched a complete game shutout — allowing three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts.
Sebring head coach Bob Weekly said the team had chances to score early on Monday, but when the game was postponed, the team had a difficult time figuring out Ostrowski.
“We thought [Monday] we were hitting it. We were hitting the ball and putting it in play, and we thought maybe we were able to continue that,” Weekly said. “They got on us early in the third inning when we resumed, and it was kind of tough for us to come back from those two runs. I didn’t see the press in our kids. I didn’t see them get pressured, or anything like that.
“Jackson-Milton, hats off to them. They got a nice team and I wish them nothing but the best. We didn’t solve Eric today and we’ve played them tough all year long. Unfortunately, this didn’t come out the way we wanted to.”
This was the Bluejays’ third straight trip to the district semifinal and their first win.
“It’’s like we got a monkey off our back,” Hogue said.