Making the change from wood to aluminum bats did not go well for the Pacific Post 320 Juniors in the opening round of the Zone 1 Tournament Thursday night at Ronsick Field in Washington.
Pacific (27-6) managed just two hits in a 6-1 loss to Jefferson City Post 5.
“I knew our pitching had to be good because over the last four days of practice, our hitting and everything else was the exact same way it was tonight,” said Pacific Manager Cory Cowsert. “We didn’t hit the ball and we also made some mistakes defensively. The guys seemed to take it lightly. I guess just being here is good enough for them. Hopefully tonight was a wake-up call and we’re ready to play tomorrow.”
Post 320 was scheduled to play Chillicothe in a losers’ bracket contest Friday at 8 p.m. The winner will play Saturday at 4 p.m. Chillicothe lost to Hannibal Thursday night, 4-2.
Jefferson City (14-4) takes on Friday’s Washington-Hannibal winner Saturday at 1 p.m.
“There’s a lot of good competition here. I don’t know much about Washington, other than they’re a good ball team. Pacific has a good ball team and I know Washington has beaten them. I didn’t see Hannibal play, but they’re off to a good start,” said Jefferson City Manager Ethan Williams. “Baseball is the hardest game to succeed at. To win a tournament, you have to get lucky and catch some breaks. We were able to do that tonight.”
Alex Dickneite, a junior-to-be at Fatima High School, tossed a two-hitter for Post 5.
In seven innings of work, Dickneite allowed one run on two hits with three walks and nine strikeouts.
Pacific’s two hits came on a bunt single by Drew Fonner in the fifth inning and a seventh-inning single by Bailey Watson.
Williams said Dickneite is not necessarily Jefferson City’s No. 1 starting pitcher, although he pitched like it against Pacific.
“I’m not sure who our No. 1 is. We have about five guys and they all throw about the same type of stuff,” Williams said. “Every tournament we’ve had, Alex has been our guy who starts first, so we stuck with it and let him go to work. He threw well just like he has all year. He was able to locate a lot of his offspeed pitches. His best pitch is his knuckleball and that was really sharp tonight and had good late action.”
Ryan Ray got the start on the mound for Pacific and suffered the loss.
In six innings, Ray allowed six runs on nine hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. He was hurt at times by defensive miscues by his team.
Brendan McMillan pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing one walk.
“Ryan threw the ball really well. If we would have put the ball in play, all that does is motivate him even more,” Cowsert said. “Brendan hasn’t pitched in a while, but he went out there and had a good seventh inning.”
Pacific took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Alex Rice walked and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Howell. He then stole third base and scored when the throw to third skipped into left field.
Jefferson City tied the game with a run in the top of the second inning and took the lead for good, 4-1, with three runs in the top of the third.
Post 5 added single runs in the top of the fifth and sixth innings.
Trailing 5-1, Post 320 had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, but didn’t score.
In addition to singles by Fonner and Watson, Rice walked twice and scored. Ryan Vogelgesang also drew a walk.
Williams was pleased with Jefferson City’s performance.
“Any time you get a guy come out and go seven strong innings, that’s big. Another big thing was we had a lot of two-out hits that kept innings alive. We kept the ball in play and stayed back on curveballs, hitting them the other way,” Williams said. “Defensively, we played very well outside of the one throwing error in the first inning. Overall, it was a good game for us.”
Pacific hopes to make a run through the losers’ bracket.
“We have the pitching to get through this tournament, but it doesn’t matter how good your pitching is if you don’t score runs,” Cowsert said. “We have to figure out ways to score runs or we won’t be around much longer.”