Nine seniors played their final regular season and conference games Monday night against Dubuque Hempstead and ended it in celebration. Although the J-Hawks split, they still earned a share of the Valley Division MVC Conference title with Iowa City West as both finished 20-6 and split games earlier in the year. Both teams finished in 2nd place overall in the MVC, one game behind Prairie. This was Jefferson's first Division title since 2005, a total of 10 years.
Jefferson struggled to start the motor in the first game as they fell 7-2. Although Jefferson would put runners on in most innings, they could not find a way to execute and push runs across. They fell short of a bases loaded opportunity in the 6th inning scoring only one run. Spencer Van Scoyoc hit the ball well, driving two doubles and adding an RBI in the 7th. It was not quite enough as Hempstead battled with starting pitcher Tyler Konigsmark all game. They put together timely hits to score four off of Konigsmark. Although Zach Weger got them out of a jam in the 6th inning, he faced more adversity in the 7th as the Mustangs tagged him for three more.
The second game was a tight ball game and pitching was the story. Hempstead would chase starting pitcher Sam Meyer after 2 and 1/3 innings. Meyer was able to strike out 5 and only allowed one hit, but walked 5 which put the bullpen to work. Fortunately, relief pitching was sharp. Zach Szabo worked them out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the third, forcing an infield flyball and a groundball out as Colton Knox made a diving play to his right and flipped to Szabo covering first for the final out of the inning. In the bottom of the third, Jefferson's offense came alive. Knox was plunked and pinch runner Carter Schmitz entered the game for him. A sacrifice bunt and a groundout later sent Schmitz to third. Spencer Van Scoyoc came up clutch with a sharp single to leftfield to score one. A passed ball later, Larson delivered with a single to right and another run. Manny Olutunde polished off the rally with a single to center. The centerfielder bobbled the ball bringing around Larson for the third and decisive run of the game. From there it was up to the rest of the relievers and defense to preserve the win. After two scoreless innings pitched by Szabo, Knox took the mound next. He would deal for an inning and two thirds, striking out one and surrenduring no runs. Van Scoyoc closed it out in the 7th, a tuneup for Friday's substate matchup, and tossed a three up three down inning and a save.
In between games, the J-Hawks honored their 9 seniors. They are:
#2 Jacob Barrera
#3 Lucas Larson
#4 Tylor Phillips
#5 Cam Frazier
#11 Colton Knox
#12 Nick Storm
#16 Steven Carlson
#17 Reid Griffith
#23 Tyler Konigsmark
The coaches are very proud of this group and wish them goodluck in the future. These seniors demonstrated great leadership all year and were vital to the continued improvement of the program.
The J-Hawks finish the regular season 29-8, 20-6 in MVC Conference play. They look forward to their first round substate matchup with North Scott, played at home starting at 7:00 on Friday night.