Central, Jackson will meet in district baseball tournament

Monday, May 12, 2008
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Jackson's Caleb Hosey delivered a pitch against Central earlier this season. Jackson won the meeting 4-3.

When Central ace Garrett Stevens pitched against rival Jackson earlier this season, the Indians rallied to score two runs off him in the bottom of the seventh to win 4-3.

Stevens knows he again will face a difficult challenge when he takes the hill today against Jackson, but this time with more at stake in do-or-die district action.

"They have a great hitting team," Stevens said. "I'll have to get ahead and stay ahead and make them think more than they make me think."

The No. 4 Indians and No. 5 Tigers meet in the first round of the Class 4 District 1 playoffs today at 4 p.m. at Jackson City Park.

The winner advances to play No. 1 Fox at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Stevens, who has a 5-4 record with a 2.48 ERA, will start for Central (10-15, 4-4), while Jackson (9-11, 6-2) will select its starter today.

Caleb Hosey leads the Indians pitching staff with a 4-3 record and 2.95 ERA. Caleb Guilliams has a 1-3 record with a 3.88 ERA.

"We're looking at three different guys," Indians coach Rob French said. "We're looking at Hosey, Guilliams or even one of the other guys we've got. Right now, it's kind of up in the air. We're not quite sure where we're going to go on the mound. I think it will be a game-time decision."

He said that whoever he selects will have to keep the Central lineup off balance.

"They are a team if they get on a roll and get in the groove, then they're a real tough lineup as well," French said. "I think against Central we're going to have to play a complete game. They're a team that right now they're pretty hot. They've been playing some good baseball. And they are a young team. They play with a lot of fire. For us to compete with them, we're going to have to play with the same kind of fire and bring our A games."

Stevens leads Central with a .447 average, three home runs and 24 runs batted in. Brooks Osburn is batting .393 with one home run and 13 RBIs.

Jackson is led by Matt Lang, with a .431 average, two home runs and 14 RBIs. Blake Reiminger is batting .377.

French said his lineup must hit well in the clutch and do a good job of sacrificing and moving baserunners.

"Every at-bat is going to be important when you have to try to score against a guy like Garrett," French said.

Central coach Steve Williams said his hitters must work themselves into strong counts by not chasing bad pitches, but at the same time stay aggressive, especially with runners on base.

"The first time we played them, Caleb pitched," Williams said. "We had opportunities in the first three innings to really put some distances between us and them and didn't do it. I think if we get opportunities early in the game, we need to cash in, put some runs on the board and then see where we're at as the game progresses."

Williams said the district is wide open. After Fox, Hillsboro is the No. 2 seed and Seckman is the No. 3. After Jackson and Central, Poplar Bluff is seeded sixth.

"Our kids will be excited, our fans will be excited," Williams said. "It will be a good matchup for both teams. And I think it's a very evenly matched game.

"I think our district is wide open. There are two teams over .500. And probably talent-wise and ability-wise, we're all in the same pool. I think it's wide open, and whoever happens to play well on those days will be the district champion. Hopefully, that will be us."

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