By Noah Dalton
MITCHELL – Mitchell High School, the state’s fifth-ranked team in 2A, picked up season wins 19 and 20 on Saturday, beating both Clarksville and Bloomfield in a tournament hosted on Mitchell’s home field.
The first matchup for the Bluejackets against Clarksville finished in a 21-1 blowout in favor of Mitchell thanks to an astounding morning at the plate with 20 total hits, while they held the Generals to just two.
Simon Gaines led the way in Mitchell’s dominant victory, with four hits and five runs scored, while hitting for the cycle; finishing with a home run, a triple, a single, and a double.
Bluejackets’ head coach Jerry Chaney said his team had an opportunity to pounce against a Clarksville team that entered undermanned following injuries and suspensions and they did just that.
“It really took the life out of them and we knew we had to jump on them and we did and we took care of business like a good team does. So, I was really proud of our players and we did a great job,” he said.
Ethan Turner pitched the majority of the game for Mitchell, throwing five innings. During his time at the mound, he gave up just one hit and one earned run, striking out seven.
The second game, against Bloomfield, was much closer for the Bluejackets, coming down to the final at-bat in the bottom of the seventh where they won in walk-off fashion, 8-7.
Mitchell controlled much of the matchup against the Cardinals, taking an early lead in the first following a sacrifice fly from Ben Seitzinger for the game’s first run.
They added three more runs to their total in the second following back-to-back RBI doubles from Ashton Luman and Gaines, as well as a single from AJ Sarver in the inning that batted in a run.
Bloomfield finally struck back in the fourth, with two RBI doubles of their own from Boone Holtsclaw and Braxton Clark, which brought the score to 4-2.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Bluejackets found themselves on the scoreboard once again, scoring three more runs. The first came way of four-straight walks to start the inning, ultimately forcing Gaines home for his third run scored of the game.
Bloomfield was able to score their first out of the inning, stopping Sarver from scoring at home but keeping the bases loaded for Turner, who brought home two runners with a double to right field, giving Mitchell a five-run lead at that point.
That lead would not prove to be enough of a cushion for the Bluejackets though, as the Cardinals continued to chip away in the sixth, scoring two more runs following an RBI triple from Clark, who was later able to score from third following a wild pitch.
Down three entering the final inning, Bloomfield managed to get runners on first and third with just one out, providing the setup for Holtsclaw who stepped to the plate to crush the tying three-run homer to right field.
Mitchell was able to leave the top of the seventh with things tied up after recording the final two outs. First to bat for them was Kody Earl, who drew a walk to get to first.
Next, Luman stepped to the batter’s box to lay down a bunt which advanced Earl to second. As the Cardinals attempted to throw out Luman at first, they committed an error, losing the ball and giving way for Earl to score the winning run.
Much like their recent win against Brownstown-Central, Chaney credited the team’s timely, well-executed bunts for their success, saying he feels that is something they will need to continue as they look to potentially win a sectional championship in the coming weeks.
“The bunt that Luman got down to win the game, if we’re going to be serious about winning this sectional we’ve got to get those bunts down and he did in that situation and that’s the difference between a sectional win and not. That’s a sectional-type game,” he said.
The Bluejackets earned just eight hits as a team against Bloomfield, compared to nine from the Cardinals. Gaines, Sarver, and Luman each had two, with Turner finishing the game with a team-high two runs batted in.
Seitzinger nearly threw a complete game for Mitchell at the mound on his way to earning the win, as he was subbed out before the Cardinals’ final at-bat because of his high pitch count of 108 on the day. He struck out 10, while allowing nine hits and seven earned runs.
Coming off an earlier game in the day in nearly 90-degree heat, Chaney said a worn down Seitzinger wanted to stay in the game through the end, ultimately making one key error that led to the tying home run in what he felt was a great performance from the junior.
“Ben got a little tired. I asked him if he wanted to stay, he wanted to stay and he made one mistake all day long. That’s the one mistake he made with that one pitch and he pitched a great game up to that point,” he said.
Seitzinger said it became increasingly difficult to stay hydrated throughout the day into the team’s second game because of the heat, but he remained focused on hitting the strike zone and putting his team in a position to record outs.
“It was a little tough at first because it’s way hotter than it was this morning, so just trying to stay hydrated. But mentally, you’re just trying to throw strikes and get them to put the ball in play and get outs,” said Seitzinger.
The goal for the tournament according to Chaney was to help the team for sectionals, which begin on Wednesday, May 24 with perhaps the most difficult possible matchup in the bracket against South Knox (16-6), leading into a potential back-to-back tournament semifinal and final on Monday, May 29.
“This tournament was set up to plan for the sectional because we’ve got to win two. You’ve got to win two in a day. First, we’ve got to start off with one and then we’ve got to win two that second day if we really want to be serious about it and this team is serious about it,” he said.
Now, with 20 wins on the season for the Bluejackets with just three games remaining in the regular season, both Chaney and Seitzinger feel good about their odds to contend in the postseason.
“To win 20 games is amazing. It’s been a long time since Mitchell Bluejackets baseball won 20 games and I’m super proud of them. Tremendous effort by my team and a great accomplishment to get those 20 wins. It’s amazing,” said Chaney. “The 20-6 record, I don’t think people thought we would do that at the beginning of the year and we have and we’ve hit the ball well and we’ve played well and we’ve kept coming together as a team. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys,” he later added.
“We feel great. We’re playing ball really well right now and this is right when we want to do it. So, we’ve got a lot of confidence going into sectionals,” Seitzinger said.