The Johnson City High School baseball team continues to rule District 28-2A thanks to another sweep.
This one came at Junction’s expense with a 9-0 win April 17 and a 23-15 victory April 14.
Now the Eagles (10-0) are looking to do the same to Center Point in the final series of the regular season. Game one is at 5 p.m. in Johnson City with game two in Center Point at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25.
It’s been a tremendous run, according to Johnson City head coach Steven Shipley, and the Eagles continue to show the motivation and determination needed to keep it going.
The best example of that was the second win against the Punchers in Mason. Johnson City sophomore pitcher Johnny Slawinski exited the game after 6 1/3 innings. Junior pitcher McCray Jacobs, who had already thrown 105 pitches in the 5-3 win of first game one night earlier, had five pitches left to get two outs. He used four for the second out and then earned the save by getting the final out.
“He threw nine pitches,” Shipley said, noting the University Interscholastic League allows a pitcher to start and finish the same batter and go slightly over the pitch count.
Mason forced Johnson City to strand around eight runners.
In game one, the Punchers scored two runs in the first inning that the Eagles matched in their half of the inning only to see Mason add another run in the second for a 3-2 advantage. The Eagles scored a run in the fourth and two in the sixth.
Jacobs struck out 16 in six innings, while Slawinski picked up the save thanks to striking out all three batters he faced in the seventh.
Jacobs helped his own cause with 2 RBIs off 2 hits, while Hagen Birck had 2 RBIs off a hit.
Seeing the results of that series may have given Junction some hope in the first game April 14. That, and Shipley’s decision to give other players important playing time in positions the team isn’t used to, resulted in a shootout.
Junction led 2-1 after the first inning, but Johnson City responded with two runs in the third inning for a 3-2 advantage. Then Junction exploded for five runs in the fourth only to see Johnson City match that run total in the fifth for an 8-7 lead.
After the sixth inning Junction led 15-12. In the seventh inning, Johnson City put the game out of reach with 11 runs for the 23-15 victory.
Slawinski had 7 RBIs off 5 hits, while Reid Weirich had 4 RBIs and Haden Fox had 3 RBIs.
“We’ve had a few other kids step up at the plate by getting big hits,” Shipley said. “That’s been good. We didn’t throw Johnny or McCray. Other guys stepped up, and a few people struggled in a few spots. We’re getting used to playing with pressure. With other guys on the mound, we had to make plays. We had runners on base and we’re getting base hits.”
The best part about that contest, Shipley said, is that his players got the message.
“The guys got upset with themselves for the way they were playing,” he said. “It’s good for us. It taught us some good things. At hindsight, it was a good thing. Our guys have high expectations for themselves.”
Johnson City is waiting to see how the three-way tie for fourth place in District 27-2A between Granger, Rosebud-Lot and Thrall play out to determine who the will face in the first round of the playoffs.
“They have some big games coming up that will decide things.” Shipley said.
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