DUBLIN — The Jonathan Alder Pioneers came out swinging.
The team scored five runs in the early going and smothering the Utica Redskins with superb pitching and defense to cruise to a 6-0 victory in their Division II Central District semifinal Tuesday at Dublin Jerome High School.
Utica pitcher Jeremy Jenkins was roughed up for four runs in the first inning, but recovered well to get the complete game. The first inning, however, was one he would rather forget.
Pioneers’ shortstop Nathan Squires led off the bottom of the first, blasting Jenkins’ second pitch into deep left for a double. Alder would eventually load the bases, scoring on a couple of groundouts followed by a Pete Whitmer RBI single.
Jenkins settled down in the second, but the damage had been done. The Redskins would try, time and again, to come back, falling short in a frustrating afternoon of baseball.
“They took advantage early in the first inning,” said Utica coach Bren Henderson. “Then they made some great plays when they had the opportunity. Most times, great defense prevails.”
Dakota Young had a hit taken away from him by Alder shortstop Squires, who turned a hot grounder into a double play to get out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the in the fourth inning.
“Dakota hit a sharp ball and the kid made a great play,” said Henderson. “It was a great double play that they turned.”
Utica second baseman Brett Robberts was robbed of a possible extra-base hit when Squires dove to his glove side to grab Robberts’ line drive. Only two innings earlier, Utica shortstop Nathan Wyscarver’s excellent diving attempt on a hot smash fell inches short. That was the way it seemed to go all day for the Redskins. That was especially true on the offensive side with hits that just could not quite find the gap and looping liners that would hang in the air just long enough to get caught.
“(Alder) played some great defense,” said Henderson. “We played some good defense but they were making some outstanding plays out there.”
Jenkins led off the seventh, hitting a cannon shot that was snared by leftfielder Shane Veith.
“I tip my hat to them,” said Henderson. “They’re a good team. Our guys battled for seven innings — that’s all you can ask as a coach. I’m very proud.”
With the loss, Utica bids farewell to seniors Robberts, Wyscarver, Jenkins, Kyle Burwell, Dave Rife and Derek Baker.
“They showed great senior leadership all year,” said Henderson. “I told the juniors, ‘I hope you’ve taken note because, after the first week, we struggled a little bit and they just took it upon themselves to turn this team around.’ They did a great job all year long. I am very proud of our seniors.”