April 6, 2019
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. --- In the state championship season of 2017, the Jefferson City Jays were bloated with talent at every position.
Dream team, dream season.
The dream had no nightmarish moments, only two bumps in the road during the historic 31-2 campaign. But one of those bumps was somewhat jarring --- Jefferson City was belted into an 8-3 deficit in an 11-7 loss to crosstown rival Helias in the championship of the Jays' own tournament, the Capital City Invitational.
Jefferson City's starter was sophomore Blake Terry.
Nearly two years later to the day, Terry gained his measure of redemption.
Facing the Jays' other arch-rival --- not to mention the second-ranked team in the state and last year's Class 5 runner-up --- Terry tossed a complete game three-hitter as Jefferson City edged Columbia Hickman 2-1 in the championship game of the Capital City Invitational on Saturday at Vivion Field.
"Playing at home in front of good crowds, it's always nice to win your own tournament," said first-year Jays head coach Kyle Lasley. "It was a fight --- kudos to Hickman, because they have a great ball club --- but our guys, they just battled."
And Terry was terrific.
"Blake's probably our No. 2 (pitcher) and he went after guys," Lasley said. "He was throwing first-pitch strikes and he got his curve ball and slider in there. He just had command of the zone.
"This is one of his better performances this year."
At any point, was the senior thinking about that 2017 game?
"Yeah, kinda," he said, before quickly correcting himself. "Yeah, actually. I was thinking about that start against Helias two years ago most of the game."
Due to Thursday's tournament washout, teams were forced to play three games Friday and one Saturday. To put it another way, they played four games in just over 24 hours.
"Yesterday was tough for us, playing three games --- of course, it was the same for everybody," Lasley said. "But they (the Jays) came back with a good attitude and played hard (Saturday)."
Usually, high school teams are basically out of pitching when facing a schedule like that. But not on this day and not in this game.
Terry (4-1), who lowered his ERA to 1.52, didn't allow a baserunner until the third inning and didn't allow a hit until the fourth. He struck out three, walked two and hit a batter, and had a shutout until in the seventh when Gage Slaughter drilled a leadoff double --- the only extra-base hit of the game for either team --- and Francisco Villarreal singled him home with one out to account for the final score.
Less than three weeks ago, the Kewpies mauled the Jays 13-0. But Terry, who didn't pitch in that game, tamed them Saturday.
"The difference between the two games," Lasley said,"is that Blake was keeping it down and getting first-pitch strikes."
Max Bates, a junior lefthander for the Kewpies (12-3), was nearly as good. He faced the minimum through three innings and didn't allow a hit until the fourth. He finished with a four-hitter, striking out five, walking one and hitting one.
The Jays (11-4) scored both of their runs in the fourth.
Senior Tucker Schwartz walked to start the rally and moved to second on junior Dawson Schuemann's single. Up stepped the No. 3 hitter, sophomore Joe Hoerchler, who singled home Schwartz for the game's first run.
Hoerchler later singled to start the sixth, giving him two of the team's four hits.
"Joe's been huge for us," said Lasley, who took over the program last summer after Brian Ash left for Southern Boone. "He started the season in the 5 or 6 hole, but we had to have him batting in the first inning.
"He's been the guy for us --- he's been really good behind the plate and he's starting to figure it out at the plate."
Senior Jack Shinkle finished the scoring for the Jays on an RBI groundout in the fourth, making it 2-0. And that proved to be enough for Terry.
The hot streak continues for the Jays, who've won six straight and 10 of 12 after starting the season 1-2.
"We're getting better," Lasley said. "Guys are working hard in practice and we're starting to find some consistency, offensively and defensively. At times, our situational hitting hasn't been the best for us, but they keep battling."
Said Terry: "I feel like we're going to go pretty far this year, actually ... farther than we did last year (losing in the district semifinals), for sure --- if we keep playing like we've been playing."
Indeed. And who knows? Perhaps this won't be the last 2017 flashback for Terry and the Jays.
In spiffy 87-minute
affair, Crusaders ride
Davidson to victory
Terry's redemption: Senior tames
Kewpies as Jays capture crown
Some Jefferson City Jays seniors celebrate their 2-1 win over Columbia Hickman to win the Capital City Invitational on Saturday at Vivion Field. Hoisting the trophy is Saturday's winning pitcher Blake Terry (22), who threw a three-hitter at the Kewpies.