Marshall baseball team earns key sweep over JCC

A walk-off sacrifice fly by Marshall’s Bryce Johnson in the bottom of the seventh inning highlighted a sweep of Jackson County Central in a Southwest Conference baseball doubleheader Thursday at Legion Field in Marshall.

Johnson’s sac fly to left field with the bases loaded and no outs allowed Austin Saugstad to score the winning run in a 7-6 Game 1 victory. The Tigers cruised in Game 2, using a six-run fifth inning to capture an 11-3 victory.

The wins allowed the Tigers to stay ahead of JCC in the conference standings. Marshall is now 7-4 in SWC play and 9-7 overall, while the Huskies fall to 3-7 in conference action and 7-9 on the season.

The Huskies were coming off a 21-3 win over Redwood Valley on Tuesday and Marshall head coach Chace Pollock was pleased to get two wins against a tough opponent.

“Jackson has a nice team and some really nice ballplayers. These were two good wins for us,” Pollock said. “This puts us over that .500 hump and hopefully we don’t look back from here.”

Thursday’s games may be the final games of the regular season for Marshall. It is yet to be determined if they will have to conclude a game with Worthington that was suspended due to darkness on Tuesday with the Tigers leading 11-3. If that game weighs on the final conference standings, it would be made up at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Game 1 of Thursday’s doubleheader swayed both ways as the pitchers on both teams battled stretches when they struggled with location.

Marshall struck for three runs in the third inning when JCC starter Zach Copley walked four batters and gave up three hits. An RBI base hit by Derek Buysse gave Marshall a 3-2 lead.

The Tigers’ pitching woes occurred in fourth inning when starter Leo Zerr gave up three hits and hit a couple of batters. Jordan Biehn had a two-RBI single to left field to give JCC a 6-3 lead before Zerr was replaced by Jared Holland.

Marshall scored two runs in the fifth to pull within a run. Drew Hmielewski led off the sixth with a double on a shallow-hit ball to left and later scored on a grounder by Aaron Mathiowetz to tie the game.

Johnson’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the seventh completed the comeback and gave the Tigers their third straight win.

Conner Mesman pitched the final two innings and kept the Huskies off the board. Mesman also pitched three scoreless innings in relief in Game 2.

“Conner did a nice job in both games of coming in and competing and throwing strikes,” Pollock said. “He’s very consistent for us and always works low in the zone. He had a nice day for us.”

Hmielewski got the start in the second game and tossed the first four innings, giving up three runs and striking out seven batters.

JCC scored all of its runs in the first two innings and Marshall took the lead for good after scoring three runs in the third to go up 4-3.

Half of Marshall’s 10 hits were doubles, spread out among five players. Derek Buysse went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, Alex Mathiowetz was 3-for-4 with a double and Carl Douglas was 2-for-4 with a double.