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Jackson baseball ends historic season in third place for Class 6

Jackson baseball poses with the Class 6 Third Place plaque after defeating Nixa 2-1 in the third-place game on Saturday at Sky Bacon Stadium in Ozark. Photo by Alivia Roach

The Jackson Indians Baseball team rounded up their record season this weekend and claimed third place in the Class 6 Final Four.

The Indians (34-7) faced off against the Francis Howell Vikings (31-11) Friday afternoon and just fell short of making it to the championship game. However, the Indians were able to turn around and beat the Nixa Eagles (32-8) Saturday night and bring home their last big win of the season.

Both of the contests this past weekend were close games with the scores being 9-8 and 2-1, respectively. The Indians played competitive baseball, combining for a total of 13 hits between the two games and stealing seven bases.

In the team’s Friday matchup against the Vikings, the Indians were able to get the bats swinging. The Indians out-hit the Vikings 10 to eight in their efforts. Sophomore left fielder Cooper Rhodes finished with three hits from his four at-bat appearances including two runs batted in and a critical double in the seventh inning.

Starting at the mound for the Indians Friday was senior pitcher Caden Bogenpohl. Bogenpohl struck out four batters in three and a half innings and was relieved by junior Carson McDaniel who produced three strikeouts in the following innings he pitched.

The Indians struggled to score until they had a big run in the seventh inning. Rhodes got things started by doubling and bringing home two runners. This was followed by singles made by Bogenpohl and catcher Baden Hackworth to make the score 9-8.

Unfortunately, the large recovery was not enough for the Indians to battle back into the game as the Vikings switched pitchers and ended the game.

After facing adversity on the first day of the state tournament, the Indians were able to get back into the swing of things. Head coach Josh Roach went on to say, “Our mindset was this is our last [game] and we want it to be our best, and they came out and did that and played phenomenal defense.”

As for Saturday’s game, the Indians were led by the pitching efforts of junior John Paul Sauer. Sauer allowed only four hits while striking out six batters throughout seven innings. Sauer was also named this year’s SEMO Conference Pitcher of the Year.

“John Paul has done what John Paul has done all season,” Roach said. “One of the best pitchers in the state of Missouri, consistently just dominating really good teams.”

To get things started senior shortstop Henley Parker earned a triple on the first at-bat of the night. Followed by a clutch single from Rhodes to bring home Parker, starting the game on the right foot.

The second and third innings were three up, three down for both teams. Luckily, senior center fielder Grant Dotson was able to bring home first baseman Landon Watkins on a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning to bury the Eagles.

This spring season has been nothing, if not record breaking for the Indians. Not only did the Indians make their first-ever state final four appearance, but they also had several achievements throughout the season.

As a team, the Indians had a remarkable nine players make the SEMO All-Conference Team including Bogenpohl, who was this year’s SEMO Conference Player of the Year.

As for next season, Roach has a positive outlook with the current underclassmen. With huge returning roles at the mound in Sauer and McDaniels and power at the plate with Rhodes the Indians hope to continue their successes into the 2024 season.

“We said to the underclassmen that this group of seniors has basically laid the foundation and left their legacy of excellence. Our standard now is to try to get back to this every single year,” Coach Roach said.

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