Jackson's season ends with 2-1 loss to Pacific

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Pacific's Matt Strothkamp, right, safely slides into second base with a stolen base as the ball gets past Jackson second baseman Logan Bartels during the seventh inning of their Class 4 sectional game Tuesday in Pacific, Mo. Strothkamp later scored to win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. (Kit Doyle)

The Indians surrendered the game-winning run with two outs in the seventh

PACIFIC, Mo. -- Jackson junior Mason Sander delivered a curveball to the outer part of the plate on a 2-2 count and the game hanging in the balance.

He thought it was a decent pitch, but Pacific's Blake Arnette threw his hands at it and jabbed it toward shallow right field.

"I left it up a little bit and he poked it into right," Sander said.

Arnette threw his arms in the air moments after clearing the batter's box as Matt Strothkamp scored the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday.

ABOVE: Jackson junior Mason Sander pitches to a Pacific batter during the Class 4 sectional game Tuesday in Pacific, Mo. Pacific won 2-1. RIGHT: Jackson third baseman Clayton Baker fields a ground ball on the line and steps on third for a force out during the fifth inning. (Kit Doyle)

"I saw the second baseman take a couple steps and I realized he wasn't going to get to it," Arnette said. "My thinking there was just don't get thrown out at first base."

Arnette safely made it to first and was mobbed by his teammates as the Jackson players slowly trudged off the field after suffering a 2-1 loss in a Class 4 sectional baseball game.

"He just kind of put the bat on the ball," Jackson coach Tatum Kitchen said. "It wasn't a great swing, but he got it out there. It's a tough way to end your year."

After playing fundamentally sound all game, it was an error that put Pacific in position to win the game. After Pacific catcher Chris Jackson walked, courtesy runner Strothkamp tried to steal second with two outs. Jackson catcher Tyler Qualls, who already signed to play at Division I Louisiana Tech next season, tried to gun him down, but the throw was wide right and went into center field, allowing Strothkamp to motor into third.

"It was just a bad throw," Qualls said. "I didn't get my shoulder closed enough and it just came out to the right."

Jackson third baseman Clayton Baker fields a grounder down the line and steps on third for a force out against Pacific Tuesday, May 25, 2010, in Pacific. (Kit Doyle)

That set the stage for Arnette to deliver the game-winner on a two-strike count.

"I was just looking for something I could handle, anything close," Arnette said. "I wasn't going to go down looking in that situation. Just looking for something I could get a piece of, whether a foul ball or a single to right."

Both pitchers choked the opposition's offense for the first four innings. Jackson didn't even manage a hit until the fifth inning, when it scored its lone run.

Sander broke up Larry Schimsa's no-hit bid with a single to right field. Mark Copen came on to courtesy run and stole second. He scored on Tyler Koch's single to right-center field.

"He was throwing a lot of offspeed, so sit back and hit that curveball," Koch said. "That's what he threw me on that 2-2. I mean I didn't really stay back, but my hands stayed back and I tried to make contact. It was a bloop, but I'll take it."

Jackson threatened to pad its lead in the sixth when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Koch's line shot to right field was caught to end the inning.

"It was off the plate a little bit," Koch said. "I tried to take it the other way, but it was right at him. It was unlucky."

Pacific answered in the bottom of the sixth when Schimsa hammered a Sander offering well over the left-field fence.

"I don't think I made too bad of a pitch, he just put a good swing on it," Sander said.

Kitchen said he planned to remove Sander from the game after the sixth inning, especially because the temperature was in the upper 80s, but he liked what he saw from his junior right-hander.

"We were about to take him out after the sixth," Kitchen said. "But he kind of kicked it up a gear. But had we gone to an eighth, he was probably done."

Sander finished with six strikeouts and five walks.

"It felt real good," Sander said of his arm. "It felt better as it went on. I think I started throwing a little harder in about the fourth inning. Usually I just get better as the game goes on."

Sander benefited from some standout defense to help him work out of a couple early jams. Qualls picked off a runner at second in the second inning when Pacific had runners on first and second with no outs. The defense turned a double play in the third inning to help its pitcher. But Qualls said Sander needed little help.

"Everything was working," Qualls said. "He had his curveball working. He had his fastball spotting up both inside and outside. He threw strikes when he needed to."

Jackson finished the season 17-8 and as district champion. That helped remove some of the sting of Tuesday's loss.

"Coming out at the beginning of the year, we weren't supposed to be district champs," Qualls said. "So we look at it as a success, something to build on next year."

Jackson0000100--170
Pacific0000011--250

WP -- Larry Schimsa. LP -- Mason Sander. HR -- Schimsa (P). Multiple hits -- Pacific: Schimsa 2-3. Records -- Jackson 17-8, Pacific 21-1.

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