The Jays rally in Lowellville | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo by Correspondent / Lowell Spencer Jackson-Milton’s Drew Sloan shoots into a pitch during the Blue Jays’ win over Lowellville on Saturday.

STRUTHERS — The Jackson-Milton Blue Jays baseball team may be young, but when they put their all together, they’re a determined team that believes they can win.

On Saturday afternoon at scenic Cene Park, the Jays dug themselves a 5-0 hole before coming back strong and eventually earning an 8-6 win over the Lowellville Rockets in the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference game. It marked the Jays’ second victory over the Rockets this season and improved their record for the year to 7-2, 6-1 in the league.

“We are just happy to play” Blue Jays coach Matt Ruby remarked. “We have nine league games to come in seven days. We just want to play. We’re so young with a freshman at center, a freshman at third, our second baseman is a sophomore, so we just want to play.

The big change of momentum in the contest came in the top of the third inning when the Rockets had an opportunity to break up play. Leading 5-1 with the bases loaded and the top of their roster coming, a hit base sure could have scored two or more runs extending their advantage. It was then that Ruby decided to bring in her ace thrower Billy Sloan.

Sloan was able to get Rockets leadoff hitter Justin Beeson to hit a one-liner to center field that Jays rookie Dominic Krol caught, blocking all three base runners. Sloan then pitched two consecutive no-hitter innings in relief.

“He tied one in the middle and the central defender made a great play on it,” Rockets coach Dan Dougherty said. “After that it looked like our bats were a bit dead. This reflected on the rest of the game.

“I’ve been in this position before, bases loaded and you have to step aside. Keep calm and throw strikes is all you have to do,” Billy Sloan described the situation. “It was important because it’s a league game and you have to win. It shows we can fight back no matter how low we are.

But the Rockets, now 2-5, 0-5 in the MVAC, showed their mettle. After falling 6-5 in the fifth inning, they managed to scratch a run in the top of the sixth to tie the game at six apiece. Rockets shortstop Ryan Neider got a first walk from Aaren Romigh, closer to the Jays, and he advanced to third base with a stolen base and a wild pitch. He came home on a Beeson pitch to even the contest.

However, the Jays responded with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth to win the game. Billy Sloan reached third base on an error and two stolen bases. He trotted home when Romigh lined up a brace down the left field line to provide the eventual RBI winner. Aiden Pugh hit a single to the center to bring Romigh home and provide an insurance run.

“I was expecting a fastball, and I had a fastball right in the middle,” said Romigh.

“Obviously Aaren is our cleanup hitter and Billy is our three hitter, those are by far the two best bats we have in terms of power,” Ruby said. “We have a number of guys who put the bat on the ball, but they know when there’s a runner on base that they need to produce. They do a great job in this area.

Romigh picked up the win in relief while Justin Beeson of the Rockets suffered the loss in his relief appearance. Pugh hit 4 RBIs in the contest, while Billy Sloan and Romigh each had two hits. All three collected a double in the contest.

The Rockets took a 5-0 lead by scoring two runs in the first and three more in the second. Kevin Johnson of the Rockets scored the first point of the game after hitting a left double and then scoring on an error. A ground out tackled another run in the first inning. They added three more in the second when Johnson drew a base-loaded walk, followed by a wild pitch and groundout pushing two more Rocket base runners home.

“I think we are improving” remarked Dougherty. “We play a lot of young guys, so we try to keep everything in perspective. At the same time, with how quickly the season is going, a game like this is one you hate to see slip away.

The Blue Jays will be back on the diamond Monday afternoon when they host the Mineral Ridge Rams in MVAC action. The Rockets will look to get back into the winners’ column also on Monday when they host Waterloo at Cene Park in the league.



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