The Blue Jays made the most of their first competitive action all year at Ralph Eyler Field, defeating Republic 11-3 in a six-inning contest on Wednesday, June 10.
Hayden Curley and Jackson Vestal each picked up two hits with an RBI and Wyatt Brockman drove in a pair of runs for the first victory of the summer for Marshfield.
“They made some mistakes, but I told the boys that’s the name of the game and you have to capitalize on them,” Jays head coach William Pate said, mostly referring to a 7-1 error differential. “When the other team’s throwing the ball around, you have to be able to keep putting the ball in play and scoring runs, and we were able to do that.”
“It feels great after not having the spring season just to get back out there and help the team win,” said Landon Wilson, who struck out four in two innings of scoreless relief, his first appearance. “It’s definitely a mental thing, because when you don’t have a spring, it kind of throws everything off, but when we had workouts, throwing bullpens, getting back into the groove of things, it got better, and it feels better coming out and dominating [today].”
Logan Crum and Jackson Rovig both picked up two hits, but Marshfield fell to Nixa 8-6 on June 2, the team’s only other game of the summer prior to the Republic game.
Acceleration will be a summer theme for Marshfield, and just about every team nationwide. Without a game having been played, the would-have-been seniors are gone, leaving a void of leadership that needs immediate filling.
“Brooks, Brennan, Austin and Thomas, they were leaders; I wish we could have gotten one more season with them,” Wilson said. “But our senior group, we’re the leaders now. It’s going to be a big change, but we’re definitely ready for it.”
That senior bunch would have accounted for a good chunk of the innings thrown this spring, but Wilson is among those being groomed for the mound. Ethan Grace, Wilson, Kyle Jones and Rovig combined to allow just four hits to the Tigers.
“Pitching overall was much, much improved since last week,” Pate said. “We didn’t walk a lot of people –– we hit a few people today –– but we had much better command of the strike zone, and that was obvious in the score giving up three in the first inning then none.”
Other phases of the game were strong for Marshfield, including fielding and base running, but the hitting will take some time after so much time lost.
“It’s definitely very apparent that some guys haven’t been playing those extra games on the weekend,” Pate said. “You play three or four games on the weekend, that’s potentially 15 to 20 more at-bats. We are behind, but we’re getting there.”
It may not count toward a conference or district title, but there’s no less hunger to win games this time of year.
“It definitely bothers you losing summer games, especially after not having a spring season,” Wilson said. “This summer is definitely a big summer because we know what we could have done last year, and we can do it again next year, we just have to start this summer by winning games. We can’t be content with losing. We want to win every game, every pitch.”
“You want to start back where we left off [before the pandemic], and it’s hard to do that after we couldn’t do anything for so long. At that first practice, everyone was rusty, but we’ve found a way to get back in that groove, and I think we’re going to be dangerous in these coming weeks.”
The Jays host again on Wednesday against Willard, ranked first in the Class 5 preseason poll this spring after reaching the semifinals in 2019.