Jackson seals trip to state tourney

Friday, July 15, 2005

Jackson's Senior Babe Ruth team faced Cape Girardeau Thursday night at Capaha Field with a chance to clinch a berth in the Senior Babe Ruth Missouri State Tournament.

Jackson needed to take just one of two in the doubleheader to earn the berth. Thanks to a complete-game shutout from starter Brandon Stearns, Jackson did just that in the opener, winning 2-0.

In the nightcap, Cape beat Jackson 3-2, moving to 27-8 overall record and 13-3 in the conference. Cape is now 16-9 and 10-4 in the conference.

Jackson coach Paul Sander said it was important to win the opening game.

"You don't want to let it go to that second game on Cape's home field. That would have been dangerous," he said. "Cape's a good ball club. It's too bad we both can't go."

Stearns was dominant throughout the game, allowing just four hits over seven innings. He improved to 9-0 by striking out six and walking just one.

"He's been a tremendous pitcher every game he's pitched, and he came through when we needed it the most," Sander said.

Added Stearns: "I felt good. Everyone backed me up like they should. A total team effort."

Of the five baserunners allowed by Stearns, two were picked off at first. Trey Glaus provided Cape's only real offensive spark with a two-out double in the bottom of the first.

"We played error-free defense behind him and had just enough offense to win," Sander said.

Jackson managed just two runs off Cape starter Tyler Bruce, who had only one three-batter inning.

Jackson had two runners on base in each of the first two innings but failed to score.

In the third inning, Jackson finally came through following a leadoff triple by Sam Lincoln. Ryan Watkins' two-out infield dribbler off the plate went for a single and scored Lincoln. Jackson added a run in the fourth off singles from Stearns and Sam Sander and a sacrifice fly from Travis Niswonger.

"We've had games where we left more than we should on, so that was a concern," Sander said. "But we were able to get enough across here."

Bruce was the hard-luck loser after pitching his way the full seven innings. Jackson managed just seven hits off Bruce, who struck out five and walked three.

Lincoln and Sander had two hits apiece for Jackson in the opener.

Jackson has a pair of doubleheaders scheduled against Advance before the start of the state tournament on July 22 in Jefferson City.

"We're definitely ready," Stearns said. "We've all been looking forward to this since the season began. We said we were going to go, and we're going now."

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