District 14 play has been unkind to the Jackson American Legion team so far this season, with a pair of 10-run losses in two district contests.
Hosting the district's lone unbeaten team, Cape Girardeau, things were not looking up for Jackson on Friday. But thanks to some timely hitting in a four-run fifth inning and eight strong innings from starter Cameron Heath, host Jackson was able to dig out its first district win, 5-4.
Cape Ford & Sons fell to 2-1 in district play, while Jackson moved to 1-2.
"We need wins period, regardless of who we're playing," Jackson coach Mark Lewis said.
Jackson trailed 2-0 after three innings, as Ford & Sons scored a run in the second inning and another in the third. Cape had at least three runners reach base in each inning.
Cape also had two of its first three runners reach safely in the fourth and fifth innings, but failed to capitalize.
"We couldn't get a big hit when we needed it," Cape coach Dave Meyr said.
The bottom of the fifth inning started harmless enough for Jackson, with Austin Leimer flying out and Logan Lawson striking out. Lawson reached first, though, when the ball got by the catcher.
After Ryan Cheney reached on a fielder's choice to make it one on with two outs, Levi Petzoldt and Taylor Busch had back-to-back singles to drive in the first Jackson run. Jordan Buchheit grounded to shortstop for what looked like the third out, but shortstop Ty Craft had to change his arm angle to avoid the charging third baseman and his throw sailed, allowing two runs to score.
Heath followed with an RBI single to push the lead to 4-2. Jackson scored four runs on four hits in the inning.
"I felt like we hadn't been getting those key hits, and we did tonight," Lewis said.
Craft cut the lead to 4-3 with an RBI triple in the top of the eighth. Jackson bounced back with a run in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Chad Minson to push the lead to 5-3.
"It was a big run," Lewis said. "I didn't feel comfortable with a one-run lead. You try to push through one and it was a big hit and a big run for us."
The run proved to be crucial, as Lawson relieved Heath to start the ninth and allowed a run on two hits. Lawson stranded a runner on second to pick up the save.
Heath scattered 10 hits and six walks over eight innings for the win. He added two hits offensively.
"Heath threw a great game. I was very pleased with him," Lewis said. "He didn't overthrow, and he really mixed things up."
Lance Young pitched all nine innings for Cape, allowing just one earned run on six hits.
Craft and Chris Brotherton led Cape with three hits, and Dane Balsmann had two.
"Lance pitched a good game," Meyr said. "We just had some errors behind him and that hurt us a bit. The lack of hitting is what did us in."
Both teams will dip back into district action next week. Jackson will host Sikeston on Monday, and Cape will host Scott County on Wednesday.
Cape's doubleheader against Oakville today has been canceled.