By ERIC FORTUNE
Jackson-Milton’s Sebastian Lay and Noah Laster combined for 10 strikeouts as they kept McDonald’s baseball team off-balance in a 3-2 victory on Wednesday.
“This has been our MO all season,” McDonald coach Bill Ifft said. “We don’t hit the first four innings. You’re not going to win too many games like that. We’re getting great pitching, but we’re not putting the bat on the ball in those early innings. We strike out way too much.”
The Bluejays (7-1) got to Joe Sudol early scoring three runs over the first three innings on five hits but left six on base during that stretch.
Joey Williams went 1 for 3 with all three RBIs for Jackson-Milton.
“You have to get started at some point,” Williams said. “If you have guys on, you’re expected to get RBIs, especially in the sixth spot.”
After getting Scott Mitchell to pop out, Sudol gave up a single and a double to Lay and Eric Ostrowski. McDonald (3-3) decided to intentionally walk Laster.
Zak Lane hit into a 1-2 fielder’s choice which brought Williams to the plate. He walked on a full count to give the Bluejays an early 1-0 lead.
Lay struck out the side in the bottom of the first.
After a scoreless second inning, Jackson-Milton added to its advantage after loading the bases.
Williams’ one-out single brought in two to make it 3-0.
McDonald cut into the deficit after a bases-loaded walk to Logan Shields scored Nick Shiley in the bottom of the third.
That brought up Nate Ifft with just one out still in the inning.
Bill Ifft felt with his team’s struggles hitting in the early innings, he would have Nate bunt on a squeeze play to get Joe Celli in from third.
Nate wasn’t able to lay the bunt down as Celli was called out and Nate was called out on strikes to end the threat.
“We had a squeeze on,” Ifft said. “It was a tough pitch to bunt. Somehow, some way you got to lay it down. He wasn’t able to get it down.”
Zach Nolf held the Bluejays’ bats at bay over the final 32/3 innings as Jackson-Milton had two hits and left a runner in scoring position in the top half of the seventh.
“We just have to adjust,” Jackson-Milton coach Kevin Iffy said. “Our pitching is going to keep us in a lot of games. You’re only going to make it so far. You can only win so many 3-2 ballgames. It showed. We have to change our at-bats. We’ll get there.”
McDonald cut the deficit to 3-2 on Calvin Wolford’s one-out RBI single. Shiley’s single got Wolford into scoring position on the next at-bat.
From there, Laster struck out Celli on a full count and got Dale Wolford to pop out to second to strand runners at first and second.
“It was like a tournament win,” Iffy said. “We weren’t at our best. We were inside yesterday. We weren’t at our best in there. You get through and survive. That’s the big thing. You get a win. ‘Are you happy? No, but you get the win.’”