J-M hitters jump on McDonald early
By STEVE WILAJ
Sure, Jackson-Milton realized McDonald starting pitcher Ben Carkido was coming off a 17-strikeout no-hitter last week in a sectional final win — not that the Bluejays were intimidated going into Tuesday’s Division IV district semifinal.
“That was last game he did that — who knew what was gonna happen today,” Bluejays pitcher Eric Ostrowski said. “I definitely felt like we jumped on him and gave ourselves confidence.”
Jackson-Milton tagged Carkido for four first-inning runs, setting the tone in a 12-2 drubbing of the Blue Devils at Cene Park. The Bluejays (18-5) advance to the district final today against Western Reserve at 6:30 p.m. at Cene.
“That kid was having a good season, but we hit the ball,” Jackson-Milton coach Kevin Hogue said. “Hopefully that continues tomorrow night.
“We came out aggressive and that’s what you have to do at this time of year. If you’re gonna swing it, it’s best to swing it early and put pressure on somebody.”
Ostrowski — who earned the win on the mound for the Bluejays (six innings, five strikeouts) — started the big first inning with a single. Noah Laster then hit an RBI single, Scott Mitchell hit a two-run double and Jonathan Voland and Zak Lane capped the inning with RBI singles for a 4-0 lead.
“We’ve faced him before and he’s definitely a good pitcher,” Ostrowski said. “But we hit the ball — we’ve been hitting the ball all year long. It’s been one of our keys to success.”
Jackson-Milton added one run each in the next four innings before scoring four runs in the sixth.
Carkido went four innings for McDonald (9-13) and allowed seven runs on 11 hits. He struck out five and walked two.
“He was around the strike zone,” McDonald coach Bill Ifft said. “We just didn’t make plays early on in the game. We’re young and I really believe we had some jitters.”
The Blue Devils were paced by doubles from Joe Sudol and Garrett Mulrooney. They scored two runs in the top of the third on Dylan Portolese and Nate Ifft RBI singles to cut their deficit to 5-2, but that’s all they would muster.
Ostrowski allowed just two runs on six hits for the contest, walking one and hitting a batter. McDonald put runners on second and third with no outs to begin the fourth, but the Bluejays’ righty escaped unharmed.
“I’ve pitched against them before and they’ve always been a tough team to pitch against because they always put the bat on the ball,” Ostrowski said. “So I knew I had to have my best stuff and I felt like I did for most of the game. I was in the zone and keeping the ball low.”
Added Hogue: “Eric’s played a lot of baseball. He knows his situations.”
Mitchell and Voland each finished with three hits for Jackson-Milton, while Lane, Ostrowski and Noah Laster all had two hits apiece.
The Blue Jays split the season-series with Western Reserve — losing 7-4 before winning 13-7. The two teams met in last season’s district final, as Western Reserve downed Jackson-Milton, 3-1.
Justin Rentz will get the call on the mound for the Bluejays.
“It’ll be a fun game,” Hogue said.