Barnesville Too Much For Union Local in OVAC 3A Semifinal
Jefferis Strikes Out 13 As Shamrocks Advance To Title
BARNESVILLE — The third and fourth innings of Saturday evening’s OVAC Class 3A baseball semifinal presented both Barnesville and Union Local with an opportunity to get the upper hand on snapping what was a 1-1 deadlock.
In the two innings combined, the Shamrocks put six runners on base, while the Jets sent five on to the bags.
Barnesville was able to bring two home, and that, plus an insurance run in the late innings, secured a 4-1 victory and a berth in Friday’s OVAC championship game.
“We got the big hits when we needed them,” Shamrocks coach D.J. Butler said as dusk descended on Memorial Park. “The guys stepped up and put the ball in play when we needed it.”
In staying unbeaten at 14-0, the Shamrocks will play the winner of Monday’s other semifinal between Linsly and Fort Frye. Their Saturday game was postponed by rain.
“It’s huge,” Butler said of reaching the title tilt and having an opportunity to win the school’s first baseball crown in 22 years. “Winning the OVAC is one of our goals and we’re now a step closer to that. And, obviously, whomever wins (the other semifinal) will be a great opponent. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Jets, who were seeking to win an OVAC baseball championship for the first time in 12 years, will have to wait another year because, unlike the Shamrocks, they failed to cash in when they had chances, according to their head coach.
“We had some missed opportunities early,” UL’s second year coach Wade Smolira said. “And then, Jagger (Jefferis) is a really good pitcher.”
The Barnesville hurler didn’t make things any easier on the Jets, striking out 13 and walking one in going the distance. He allowed a first-inning run on two hits by Cody Morrison and Dakota Hess (RBI), but settled down nicely after that, giving up two hits the rest of the game.
“He’s been great all year,” Butler said. “We’ve had injuries and other guys have stepped up. He was able to go seven innings and that was huge.”
Jefferis encountered some trouble in the aforementioned third and fourth innings, but was able to emerge unscathed,
In the third, the Jets had Hunter McCort and Morrison at third and second, respectively, with one out. Jefferis forced a groundout to second for out No. 2. Then, after an intentional walk loaded the bases, a UL batter sent a comebacker to him that ended the threat.
An inning later, UL had runners at the corners with two outs, but Jefferis got a punch out to end things.
Jefferis retired the final nine batters of the game — the last six by strikeout.
Barnesville left two on in the third, but came back in the fourth by getting its first two batters — Ayden Hannahs and Alex Meade on. Uryan Meade’s sac bunt sent both runners to third and second. And when pinch hitter Jake Edwards walked, the bases were loaded.
Two batters later, with two out, leadoff batter Cade Hannahs hit a hard shot to short that bounced up hard and into shallow left. Two runs scored giving Barnesville a 3-1 lead.
“Cade got a hard-hit ball to short and then Alex scored (in the sixth on a sac fly by Uryan Meade) that gave us an insurance run,” Butler said. “There’s a big difference between a two-run lead and a three-run lead going into the seventh.”
Hess, the Jets starter worked into the sixth, leaving after Alex Meade’s leadoff triple. He allowed five hits and fanned four.
“He had a heckuva game,” Smolira said. “He pitched well. He’s only a freshman.”
Despite falling to 7-11, Smolira was happy his young team was able to experience a tournament atmosphere and said it will only benefit it going forward.
“It’s going to be good for the kids because we only have one senior leaving,” he said. “I think we can build on this for next year.”
The Shamrocks will start tuning up for the OVAC title game Monday by playing host to Bridgeport. Union Local makes the trek to Weir the same day.