WR’s regional streak snapped
By Dan Hiner
Jackson-Milton first baseman James Harris fielded a ground ball and tagged the bag. And the streak was over.
Western Reserve lost to the Blue Jays 4-3 in Saturday’s Division IV sectional final, snapping a streak of four consecutive district titles.
Most of those titles came at the expense of Jackson-Milton.
The Blue Devils beat the Blue Jays three straight years in the district final, including a 4-3, 11-inning victory at Cene Park last season.
“The kids came out [strong] in the first inning,” Jackson-Milton head coach Kevin Hogue said. “We challenged them all year to get back to this game. They took care of it.”
Sebastian Lay struck out eight and allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits for the Blue Jays (12-10).
“When we play Reserve, it’s usually a really close game,” Lay said. “We come in expecting it to be a close game because we’re both really good teams and we play baseball very well against each other.
“It’s a rivalry. You want to play your best baseball against your rival.”
Despite starting four freshman, Lay said the rest of the Blue Jays were confident they could pull out a close game.
“We were just coming in ready to play ball,” Lay said. “We wanted to have chance to keep this game close going in.”
The Blue Jays’ lefty became the program’s single-season leader with 129 strikeouts. Lay broke the record after punching out Caleb Quinn in the bottom of the fourth.
Blue Jays pitching coach Matt Ruby, the previous record holder, struck out 125 in 1999.
He’s gone 231⁄3 consecutive innings without allowing a walk, the 14th longest streak in OHSAA history.
“You can’t say enough about Sebastian Lay,” Hogue said. “That’s a kid who goes out. He’s a warrior. It’s fun to have all the little kids come out, that’s who they want to be like now.
“He’s done a great job.”
Dom Velasquez allowed four runs on four hits and two walks for the Blue Devils (14-9). The left-hander struck out nine and pitched three perfect innings to end the game.
Jackson-Milton scored all four of its runs in the top of the first inning.
Freshman Luke Campbell hit a three-run inside-the-park home run to give the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead. Joey Williams got Jackson-Milton on the board with an RBIs single to score Lay.
“[The home run] is great, but it was always a team effort,” Campbell said. “Everybody played their best. I just happened to have a great hit.”
The Blue Devils had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Western Reserve had runners on second and third with one out, but Lay struck out back-to-back hitters to end the inning.
Ryan Slaven hit an RBI double for the Blue Devils and Velasquez had a RBI single.
“Everyone’s like ‘the runs over, the runs over.’ Hey, I think they had a nice season,” Western Reserve head coach Ed Anthony said. “We played some big teams, it’s not like we play league teams. We play some big teams.
“These kids battled this years. Like I said, love my seniors to death, love the kids and we’re just gonna have to reload.”