JEFFERSON — Ample run support is every pitcher’s best friend, and Jefferson High’s pitchers take the responsibility of producing runs in their own hands.
It all started in Game 1 against Crawford County when starter Jake Fields saw three pitches to hit and turned two of them into home runs in the Dragons’ 6-2 win.
Game 2 starter Jamie Sexton followed suit in the nightcap by hitting an RBI double in the third inning to give his team a 2-0 lead in a game it won 11-1 in six innings.
With the sweep, Jefferson (24-3) advances to the second round of the Class AA playoffs where it will play host to Blessed Trinity on Wednesday at Horace J. Jackson Field.
“As a pitcher you want to get runs,” said Sexton, who led off Game 1 with a solo home run. “Once you get that lead it helps you calm down and throw strikes.”
That was evident in Game 1 when Fields gave up two runs in the first inning but bounced back to hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the bottom of the inning that gave Jefferson the lead for good.
“Most of the times I have bad first innings,” said Fields, who had nine strikeouts and pitched a complete game in the series opener. “But I try not to take what happens on the mound when I get to the plate.”
Sexton didn’t have to worry about that in Game 2, as the senior right-hander struck out eight and gave up just two hits in six innings.
“Pitching was a big question mark before the season,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. “Those two didn’t have very many innings pitched, but they’ve been consistently keeping us in ball games and I can’t ask for anything else.”
While pitching might have been a concern, offense has never been an issue for Jefferson, and it certainly wasn’t against Crawford County (13-12).
The Dragons hit four home runs in Game 1 — two from Fields and one each from Sexton and Kyle Hardy — and another in Game 2 on a two-run shot from Andrew Bartek that gave Jefferson a 6-0 lead.
Bartek finished the series 1-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored, while Jason Demos went 2-for-7 with three RBIs.
‘It’s a hitter’s park, no doubt about it,” Knight said. “It’s a problem when we hit home runs early because everyone goes up there with that in mind, but we did a good job of adjusting and having good approaches at the plate.”
No one was happier with his approach than Fields, who was clearly being pitched around and was intentionally walked in Game 2.
“I’ve been known to not be the best at picking the right pitch to swing at,” Fields said. “It’s tough when people are pitching around you, and sometimes I get too aggressive.
“I didn’t do that in these games.”
Seeing that plate discipline from Fields and the rest of the Dragons, combined with the team’s extensive playoff experience has Knight confident heading into the second round.
“We won’t be surprised by anyone we see,” Knight said. “We’ll be ready to go.”
The Dragons were certainly ready to go Friday, and while they were glad that both games weren’t close, Fields said the team wasn’t trying to make a statement.
“We worry about us more than anyone else,” Fields said. “We’re trying to go as far as we can.”
Times for the second-round series have yet to be determined.