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Jackson opens season with 9-8 victory against Scott City
SCOTT CITY -- Two high school baseball teams carrying lofty expectations opened the season Monday with an entertaining game.
Jackson wound up having the most fun as the visiting Indians slipped past defending Class 2 state champion Scott City 9-8.
"I thought the atmosphere was more like a midseason game," Jackson coach Rob French said. "You could tell both teams had done a lot of preparation.
"For a first game, I thought it was pretty well played by both teams."
Scott City graduated ace pitcher and slugger Ryan Modglin, along with another top hitter in Cody Carlyle. Both are playing college baseball, with Modglin at Division I Missouri State.
But the Rams returned all their other key players from the state title squad that went 23-1.
"It's a brand new year, with new goals and new visions," Scott City coach Lance Amick said. "We feel pretty good about our team, but the state championship is over. It ended today."
Jackson didn't fare nearly as well as Scott City last year, but the Indians did shake off a slow start to win a Class 4 district title.
Like Scott City, the Indians welcomed back many of their top players.
"I think we're going to be pretty good," Jackson junior catcher Tyler Qualls said. "It's a good way to start."
Monday's contest was marked by plenty of offense as both squads took advantage of a strong wind blowing out.
Of Jackson's 12 hits, seven went for extra bases. The damage featured two home runs, four doubles and a triple.
"This is kind of a coming-out day for us [offensively]," French said. "In practice the last few weeks, we haven't hit that well."
Many of Jackson's big blows came against senior Shae Simmons, one of the area's top pitchers.
Simmons, the winner in the 2008 state championship game who has signed with Division I Southeast Missouri State, was removed in the fourth inning before retiring a batter.
Simmons gave up seven runs and eight hits, with five strikeouts and a walk, as he took the loss.
"You have to give credit to Jackson. They came out and swung the sticks," Amick said. "Shae is a pretty good pitcher, but they hit the ball.
"I know it's just one game, but they look to be a pretty good team."
Senior second baseman Josh Duncan went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs to lead Jackson's offense.
"It felt good," Duncan said. "A little confidence for us rolling into the season."
Qualls doubled twice -- he walked and was hit by a pitch in his other two plate appearances -- and had two RBIs.
Junior shortstop Matt Crader added two hits for the Indians, while junior DH Tyler Koch belted a three-run homer in the second inning that put Jackson ahead for good at 5-4.
Scott City also displayed a strong offense with 11 hits, including a homer, three doubles and a triple.
Simmons, who moved to shortstop after leaving the mound, went 3-for-4 with a homer, a triple and two RBIs.
Sophomore DH Austin Raines also went 3-for-4, while senior third baseman Cody Page had two hits and four RBIs.
Senior Josh Henson, who started the game at shortstop before replacing Simmons on the mound, added two hits for the Rams.
"Both teams hit the ball well," French said. "Scott City is a very good team."
Senior Caleb Hosey, the Indians' top pitcher last season, notched the victory with 4 2/3 innings. He allowed seven runs and nine hits, with four strikeouts and two walks.
Hosey gave up four first-inning runs, then fired off three straight scoreless frames before allowing three runs in the fifth.
Senior Travis Hurst was stellar in relief to earn a save. He recorded the final out in the fifth, then allowed just an unearned run over the last two innings.
Hurst gave up two hits, struck out three and walked two.
"Travis did a good job," French said. "He worked really hard in the offseason."
Henson was also solid in relief for Scott City, allowing two runs (one earned) and four hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Scott City trailed 9-4 before putting together a three-run fifth.
Things got interesting in the seventh. After Jackson's only error of the day to start the inning, Simmons delivered a two-out, RBI triple to make it 9-8.
Henson then got a good piece of the ball but flew out to center field to end the game.
"I kind of left it out over the middle of the plate. Luckily he hit it to our center fielder [senior Michael Mouser]," Hurst said. "We pulled it out. That's all that matters."
Jackson 9, Scott City 8
WP -- Caleb Hosey, 1-0. LP -- Shae Simmons, 0-1. S -- Travis Hurst, 1. HR -- Josh Duncan (J), Tyler Koch (J), Simmons (SC). 3B -- Zach McDowell (J), Simmons (SC). 2B -- Tyler Qualls (J) 2, Matt Crader (J), Andy Winkleblack (J), Josh Henson (SC), Austin Raines (SC), Cody Page (SC). Multiple hits -- Jackson, Duncan 3-5, Qualls 2-2, Crader 2-5; Scott City, Simmons 3-4, Raines 3-4, Henson 2-4, Page 2-4. Records -- Jackson 1-0, Scott City 0-1.