By Grant Pepper
Eager to get back onto the field, the Oakwood Lumberjacks (2-2 in SWBL Southwestern Division play), looked for revenge against the visiting Monroe Hornets (2-3 in SWBL Southwestern Division play) last night at Chuck Ely Field. In the first meeting between these division foes (April 10), Monroe won 21-11 at home.
While that contest was a slugfest, yesterday’s game was a different story.
With both teams sending their aces to the mound, junior southpaws Patrick Ireland of Oakwood and Jake Little of Monroe put on somewhat of a pitching exhibition on Monday night. Ireland and the Jacks would prevail however, as clutch hitting and suffocating late-inning pitching would rally Oakwood past Monroe, 3-2.
Ireland and Little were working early, as neither team got on base in the first inning. The Jacks struck first, in the second inning, when senior Andrew Stephenson got on base with a single, and then proceeded to steal second. After Little walked senior Grant Kincaid, senior Henry Blattner singled to score Stephenson, while Kincaid advanced to third base.
Kincaid would score on a balk, pushing the Jacks’ lead to 2-0 after two innings.
Ireland kept his masterpiece intact through the third inning, surviving long fly-outs to left and center field (Ireland recorded six fly-outs on the evening, as well as six ground-outs). Down to a 3-0 count late in the inning, Ireland battled back to record one of his four strikeouts, keeping the shutout alive.
Monroe’s first baserunner came in the fourth inning, off of a mishandled ground ball to third base. Following the error, Ireland hit the next batter, and the following batter hit a deep double to right field, sending in the first Hornet run of the night.
In the fifth inning, Ireland would show his resilience yet again. The lefty forced the slumping Hornets into a fly-out and a strikeout, leaving a runner on third base and maintaining the lead.
Little, however, kept plugging away for the visiting Hornets, recording four of his eight strikeouts in the fourth and fifth innings as the Lumberjack bats went cold.
The Hornets sprung to life again in the sixth inning, advancing a runner to third base with just one out. This was the end of Ireland’s night; Oakwood’s ace recorded four strikeouts, holding the Hornets to just one run on three hits in 5 and 1/3 innings. New on the mound was junior Jack Minser.
The next Monroe batter hit a bloop single into center field, which bounced off of an Oakwood glove to move the baserunner home, tying the game at 2.
After a walk, Minser faced runners on first and second base with just one out. The next batter knocked a powerful ground ball up to the mound, where Minser acrobatically jumped up, snagged the ball, and threw to second base, initiating a momentum-changing, inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the sixth, a single by junior Chase Randolph started things off for the Jacks. Randolph got to third base due to a wild pitch, and he eventually scored off of a single by junior Markus Neff, putting the Jacks up 3-2 late in the game.
Riding the momentum carried over from the last inning, Minser forced Monroe’s first batter into a quick groundout. Minser would strike out the final two Hornet batters, as the Jacks defeated Monroe 3-2.
Moving to 2-2 in division play, the Jacks’ next game is tonight, on the road against the Brookville Blue Devils. The Jacks will play five division games in five days this week, as they are at Bellbrook on Wednesday, hosting Bellbrook on Thursday, and at Franklin on Friday.