Mineral Ridge falls to Jackson-Milton in district semifinals
FAIRPORT HARBOR — A year ago, Jackson-Milton coach Matt Ruby talked about how the Blue Jays hoped to be back in this same spot last year, but win.
The Blue Jays made that goal a reality on Tuesday, taking advantage of a handful of early walks, converting them to runs and beating league rival Mineral Ridge 8-4 in a Division IV Fairport Harbor District semifinal.
Knowing the Rams were going to throw a lefty at them, Ruby had his team prepared. They wound up seeing both of the lefty pitchers they planned for.
“We knew we were gonna see a lefty, we just didn’t know which one we were going to see, so I had some college guys come throw to us on Friday and Sunday and Monday,” he said. “We were able to get outside for a full week and be able to practice so we’re a lot different team than we were three weeks ago.
“We had three freshmen in the starting lineup today. We only have one senior on the team and to get back to where we were from last year, with this roster, it’s a great job. We pitched well, we threw well and we came up with the hits when we needed to.”
Three Blue Jay batters wound up being walked home in the first inning, which clocked around 30 minutes to play out both halves.
Aaron Romigh capped off the top of the first, scoring off a wild pitch.
The Rams were able to capitalize off the same thing with Mark Bunch walking home as well.
In addition to the walks, Jackson-Milton was able to hammer some shots deep allowing for extra base hits. Billy Sloan rounded the bases three times for the Blue Jays.
The Rams pushed back at multiple points throughout the contest, but Jackson-Milton had an answer for everything they threw at them.
Being league rivals, there’s an obvious familiarity between the squads. The first two games were both won by the Rams, 5-1 and 10-0. The latter of the two was 13 days prior.
In the two weeks since the last meeting, the Blue Jays did some growing up. Ruby said they played with no fear, which made all the difference.
“We weren’t timid,” he said. “We came out, we came out to be the alpha and that’s what we did.”
Given that they’re a young team, growth has been a common theme all season. The goal has been a constant improvement however, and that’s what’s been happening.
“Young, making a lot of mental mistakes, that’s it,” Ruby said about the season so far. “We’re just getting better with every game we play in and in every practice.”
Mineral Ridge’s season ends at 14-5.
“It’s tough to beat the same team three times,” Rams coach Anthony Ragozine said. “They’re a good team and they came ready to play.”
Mineral Ridge graduates six seniors including both top pitchers, Mark Bunch and Ty Tamburro.
With Ragozine’s first year at the helm in the books, the Class of 2022 was instrumental in guiding the team to this point and making his transition to head coach easy.
“The seniors bought in early and they set the tone for the rest of the guys here,” Ragozine said. “Hats off to the seniors for being the ones to to set the tone for the time being.
“They’ve been huge. Majority of our offense was them, it was all seniors pitching, the whole the whole season on these guys. They did everything we asked them to do for us and then some.”
In the district final on Thursday, Jackson-Milton will take on Bristol, who beat Ashtabula St. John 4-3 in their district semifinal matchup. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. with a trip to Gates Mills for regionals on the line.