Jackson bombards Bluff

Friday, April 23, 2010
Jackson's Bobby Clark pitches during the first inning Thursday.

While Jackson baseball coach Tatum Kitchen nervously sat at a local hospital in anticipation of the birth of his first child Thursday afternoon, his Indians rolled up their sleeves and delivered a 10-run victory over Poplar Bluff at Whitey Herzog Stadium.

Jackson hammered two home runs in a seven-run fifth inning at its spacious new home, including a one-out, three-run shot by junior first baseman Zach McDowell that enacted the 10-run rule and sealed a 12-2 victory.

McDowell's first high school home run cleared the right-field fence by plenty. It was the fourth home run the Indians have hit at their new ballpark, and six batters after teammate Tyler Koch launched the Indians' third.

"We wanted to get a win for coach Kitchen. His wife, I think, is having a baby today," said Koch, who hit a two-run shot off starting pitcher Quinton West. "We wanted to come back and get a win for them after that loss yesterday."

The Indians came into the game smarting from a 7-6, 10-inning loss to Dexter a day earlier. It was a game Jackson (8-5) also played without its coach and one in which the Indians coughed up a late lead.

Jackson's Matt Crader chases down Poplar Bluff's Bandyn Clark between second and third base during the second inning Thursday at Whitey Herzog Stadium in Jackson. Clark was tagged out on the play. (KRISTIN EBERTS)

"I think [coach Kitchen] was a little worried that we wouldn't be up and ready for the game," said senior catcher Tyler Qualls, who went 3 for 3 at the plate and cut down two runners on the basepaths. "He was not here to motivate us or anything like that. I guess we kind of came back from last night after a real bad loss and got back on the track for him."

McDowell finished with four RBIs in an effort to send better news to his coach.

"We didn't want to report to him that we lost two in a row," McDowell said.

Poplar Bluff (3-9) took a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the second inning, but Jackson came back with 11 unanswered runs, including two in the bottom of the inning when it went ahead for good.

Jackson scored in all five innings and eight of its 11 hits went for extra bases. Mason Sander, Qualls, McDowell and Koch each had two extra-base hits. In all, the Indians had two home runs, three triples and three doubles. Sander, Qualls and McDowell each had triples.

Jackson assistant coach Bryan Austin congratulates Zach McDowell as McDowell rounds third after hitting a three-run homer during the fifth inning Thursday.

"That power surge, we'll take it and hopefully it will stay around for a little bit," Jackson assistant coach Bryan Austin said. "We hit the ball great tonight. We couldn't ask for a whole lot more. And that was a huge district and conference game for us."

Sander led off the second with a double and tied the game at 2-2 on an RBI single by leadoff batter Matt Crader. With two out, Qualls scored Crader from second with a triple for the game-winning run.

Sander had an RBI triple in the third, and McDowell increased the lead to 5-2 with a run-scoring triple in the fourth off West, who was getting his first look at Herzog Stadium.

"I think it's more of a pitcher's park," West said. "But I mean any game can have a lot of runs if you don't execute plays, and we didn't execute at all today."

The wheels came off for West in the fifth after an inning-opening error.

Jackson's Logan Bartels tags out Poplar Bluff's Josh King at second base during the first inning of Thursday's game at Whitey Herzog Stadium in Jackson. (KRISTIN EBERTS)

Koch, who homered against Dexter, sent a West delivery comfortably over the 10-foot chain-link fence in left field that sits 330 feet away from home plate.

"The guy hit a bomb off me," West said. "It was a good stroke. I let it hang over the plate and he just bombed it, man."

West then hit Sander with a pitch and walked Dylan Koehler before being lifted for Jeffrey Rowland, who retired his first batter on a fly ball. Logan Bartles and Qualls followed with RBI singles to increase the lead to 9-2. McDowell then ended the game with his blast.

Bobby Clark pitched all five innings for Jackson. He allowed three hits, struck out four and walked three.

"We didn't hit the ball very well last night and we came out today and tried to erase that away," Austin said. "We had a lot better day today. Bobby Clark didn't have his best stuff today. He was a little tight early on and he fought through it and the last inning was the best he'd been all game."

Poplar Bluff02000--232

WP -- Bobby Clark. LP -- Quinton West. HR -- Tyler Koch (J), Zack McDowell (J). 3B -- Tyler Qualls (J), Mason Sander (J), McDowell (J). 2B -- Robert Rushin (PB), Sander (J), Koch (J), Qualls (J). Multiple hits -- Poplar Bluff: Rushin 2-2. Jackson: Qualls 3-3, McDowell 2-3, Koch 2-3, Sander 2-2. Records -- Poplar Bluff 3-9, Jackson 8-5.

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