A night of missed opportunities spelled out a recipe for South Jones’ first loss of the season. Totaling nine runners left on base, over half stranded in scoring position, South Jones fell to West Lauderdale in eight innings 4-2 Tuesday night in Ellisville.
The Braves fall to 3-1 on the year, while the Knights remain perfect at 3-0.
“When you play programs like West Lauderdale, in a playoff caliber game like the stuff you see in May, it comes down to a few opportunities,” said South Jones head baseball coach Jordan Rogers. “We missed several of those opportunities tonight.”
One big opportunity wasn’t squandered away though. Down 2-0, with two runners in scoring position and South Jones down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh, senior and JCJC signee Andrew Howard delivered. His two-run, two-out single to left field forced the contest into extra innings.
“Andrew Howard stepped up big for us,” said Rogers. “It kept us going and extended the game.”
Howard led South Jones at the plate with two singles and two runs scored in four plate appearances. Seniors Chad Moses and Tyler Ducksworth also had two hits apiece in the contest.
“We did out hit West Lauderdale,” Rogers said. “It goes back to getting those opportunities and Howard did that. He extended the game, and he was eager to get in there and do it again, but it didn’t get back around to him [in that final inning]. And that’s how baseball works. But hats off to West Lauderdale. They do have some good arms.”
Rogers added that teams like West Lauderdale’s caliber are the kind of teams they’ll have to beat to get to Pearl in the 5A classification.
“We get another shot at those guys Friday,” said Rogers. “Like I told our guys after the game, we have to find more conviction about what we’re doing. But hey, the good Lord gives us tomorrow and other opportunities.”
Senior and JCJC signee Tyler Ducksworth started the game on the mound, going five full innings and giving up one run on two hits. Fellow senior and teammate Destin Shoemake entered the game as relief in the fifth and closed the extra-inning affair out. Shoemake gave up three runs on two hits in three innings of work.
“We’ve been offensive early,” said Rogers. “And we’ve been sloppy at times, which everybody is in high school baseball this early.
“We do things a little different. Like Ducksworth tonight, he got to his pitch limit that we were at. You have to like what he does for us offensively and on the mound. He and John Mitchell are going to give us the best opportunity when they’re on the mound. Ducksworth proved that tonight. And we look for him to continue to grow too. He’s not satisfied with just a pretty good outing. He’s still figuring the pitching thing out. He’s a fantastic shortstop and tonight he proved he can be a fantastic pitcher for us and take us where we need to go.”
South Jones plays again on Friday night at West Lauderdale. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.