One run is enough
Jackson-Milton nips Lowellville, 1-0, in MVAC Scarlet battle
NORTH JACKSON — In a battle of two talented pitchers, a single hit could make all the difference.
That difference came from Jackson-Milton sophomore Billy Sloan, who hit a double in the fourth inning, then stole third and was knocked in by Gavin Sahli. That gave the Blue Jays the only run they needed in a 1-0 MVAC Scarlet Tier win over Lowellville.
The winner of the pitching duel was Jackson-Milton’s Mason Robison. The senior pitched a complete game, striking out all but one of the Rocket batters and only surrendered two hits.
“We got a great start by our pitcher,” Blue Jays coach Matt Ruby said. “We got a timely hit and made some defensive plays. Mason was unbelievable. I mean seven innings, two hits, 10 strikeouts, he was unbelievable. Getting ahead of hitters, he only threw 78 pitches in seven innings. He was on point.”
Manning the mound for Lowellville was sophomore Ricky Palumbo, who had an impressive performance of his own.
Palumbo also pitched a complete game, striking out seven and also surrendering just two hits.
“It was a pitchers duel,” Rockets coach Dan Dougherty said. “A good, tough conference game. Ultimately, we just didn’t put the ball in play enough. I couldn’t have asked for more of our pitcher Ricky Palumbo, he threw an excellent game, only gave up a couple hits. Our catcher Cole Bunofsky came up with some big plays behind the plate. It’s a tough one to lose.”
Ruby, who is in his first year with the program, thinks the Blue Jays (2-0) are ahead of schedule as to where he had them this early in the season.
“Actually we’re playing a little bit better than I thought we would at this point in time,” Ruby said. “We’re gritty, we’re in close games, we know how to play these close games.
In fact, Jackson-Milton has technically been in the midst of a close game for almost a week now. On Wednesday, the Blue Jays had a road contest against Western Reserve that was suspended in the 10th inning with no winner decided. The two will make it up at a later date.
The experience Jackson-Milton has picked up in the close games thus far is only going to help them as the season goes on.
Lowellville has been in close contests as well, but is still searching for its first win, sitting at 0-3 on the season. The expectation is that once the bats wake up, the wins will follow suit.
“That’s the hope,” Dougherty said. “It’s a long season in terms of we play a lot of games. Even in our second week I’m seeing improvements. I think we can stay the course and not get too discouraged with some of these early losses. We’ve got the right group that can pull it together.
“Our biggest problem so far has been the bats. We’ve had pretty good pitching, fielding has been there, we’re just not stringing the hits together when we need them.”
After losing to Springfield, then to Campbell on a walkoff, getting the hitters to adjust is the key going forward.
“We’ve definitely seen good pitching, but that’s how it is at this level,” Dougherty said. “We’ve got to adjust.”
The teams play again today at Lowellville at 5 p.m.