Through five and a half innings Tuesday night, Enterprise Lincoln played the spoiler on Senior Night in Ellisville. South Jones spoiled the Yellow Jackets plot with a seven-run bottom of the sixth, then held on for a 9-4 win to close out the regular season 20-5 overall.
“If we can keep it within four [runs] we always feel we have a chance,” said South Jones head baseball coach Jordan Rogers. “Our guys stuck to the plan. We struggled early but found a way to put pressure on them. It was ugly, but my proud of our guys for coming away with the W.”
Senior Chad Moses led off the seven-run sixth inning with a single down the third base line. Several batters later, Moses crossed home plate thanks to a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to deep center field off the bat of senior Andrew Howard. After an RBI ground ball by senior Tyler Ducksworth tied the game at four runs apiece, senior Nate Conliff gave South Jones its first lead of the night (6-4) on a two-run double over the head of Enterprise Lincoln’s right fielder. Logan Odom followed with an RBI single to make it 7-4. The Braves scored two more runs in the inning on back-to-back passed balls by the Yellow Jackets pitching staff.
“There’s a standard here with you start talking about guys like Mason Strickland, Carter and JD Pollos, Madison Manning and Miguel Morgan,” said Rogers. “And the list goes on. They’ve ingrained a style of play here that we’re known for. And for the first five innings, we didn’t play that brand of baseball. But our guys decided to go back and start playing that brand of baseball. It wasn’t anyone in particular. It was all 21 of them making their mind up to be who we are and playing that brand of South Jones baseball. And that put us over the top tonight. I’m proud of our guys putting us over the top.
Leadoff batter Mark Diers led the Braves offensively, going 4-for-4 at the plate with four singles. Conliff, Moses, and Howard also had multi-hit performances.
With playoffs set to begin this week, Rogers sent several pitchers to the mound to get “a last-second look.” Starter Destin Shoemake and relief pitcher McCain Walters logged the most innings with two apiece. Odom, Evan Mouton, and Ducksworth pitched one inning of relief as well.
“We wanted to get things in order on how we’re going to attack North Pike,” added Rogers. “Tonight gave us a little better idea.
“Our guys threw well tonight. We didn’t play good defense behind them, but I like how we pounded the strike zone. It was 4-0 at one point, but I like how our pitchers gave us a chance, and that’s all we ever ask them to do.”
South Jones will face North Pike in round one of the Class 5A playoffs. Game 1 will be in Ellisville this Friday, followed by Game 2 at North Pike on Saturday, and if necessary, a Game 3 back home on Monday. All three games will start at noon.
“North Pike has a storied program,” said Rogers. “Most of their wins and titles came in 3A and 4A. Back 10 years ago they were a 3A school. They’re always known for top-notch talent and guys that play the game the right way on a high level.
“We’re fully expecting a tough series, and you know as well as anybody that on the 5A level you’re facing state championship talent right out the gate and programs that expect to be in Pearl at the end of the year.”