With Prairie leading the Mississippi Division of the MVC Conference and Jefferson leading the Valley Division, Friday night was destined to hold a playoff-atmosphere and large crowd. These two well-coached baseball teams did not disappoint. The Prairie Hawks, now ranked 8th in 4A, were also looking to avenge a ten run loss to the J-Hawks from the Metro tournament earlier in the season.
The first game began with Jefferson showing off its defense. Catcher Caleb Stekl picked off the lead-off runner at first base, and the inning ended efficiently with groundballs to Lucas Larson and Tyler Roeder. The J-Hawks grabbed the lead immediately. Jared Eivins led off with a single just past the shortstop. On the first pitch, Roeder would unload on a pitch and sent a shot to left-center. The ball carried deep and would miss becoming a home run by a matter of inches as it hit the right side pole of the monster in left field and bounced back into the field of play. Larson and Manny Olutunde paired up for sacrifices to score two. The J-Hawks also had a good inning in the third. Caleb Stekl blasted his first home run over the monster for a no-doubter to begin the scoring. Olutunde and Brayden Frazier would pair up for hits, while errors and wild pitches sent them around. Nearly every J-Hawk starter added a hit showing off a balanced attack throughout the game. Tyler Davidson started the game throwing four solid innings. He surrendured only one run and struck out two to earn the win. Jarred Wood shut the door with a three inning save giving up no earned runs. Tyler Roeder and Jared Eivins paired up for 11 assists fielding eating up several tough groundballs. The J-Hawks took the first game 5-2.
After playing in a travel showcase tournament in the previous week, Jarred Wood would become an iron-man for the J-Hawks on the mound. He would start the second game and battled through four strong innings giving up only a run and adding three more strikeouts on the day. To back him, the bats gave him cushion quickly and scored three runs in the second inning. Three errors by the Prairie Hawks helped Jefferson take a 3-0 lead early. They would tack on one run in the fourth as Tyler Konigsmark came around to score shortly after hitting a double to lead off the inning.They would also score another in the fifth, as Cam Frazier stepped up and knocked home speedy Manny Olutunde from second base. Tyler Roeder continued to hit the ball well with two hits on the day, and Olutunde scored two runs in the game. Defensively, the J-Hawks would not give the Hawks any help as the infield continued to eat up groundballs hit. Jared Eivins was called upon to finish the game. Although he was touched up for two runs in the sixth inning, he stayed strong and earned another three inning save, striking out three in the process. This would give Jarred Wood the win in the second game to cap off a great day in which the J-Hawks were short pitching in the bullpen. The final score was 5-3.
The J-Hawks are now standing tall in the conference, with a 16-4 overall record and 10-2 in conference play. Prairie falls to 12-4 and 7-3 in conference play. Jefferson finishes the 7 games in 4 days stretch 6-1 and showed off their pitching depth through it all. After a much needed weekend off, they will play at home Monday against Dubuque Hempstead who is also 10-2 in the conference.