It was a long time coming but the JCHS baseball team finally pulled out a conference win last week at Sullivan North. Even more impressively, it was a total victory with pitcher Ryan Mahala throwing out his second career no hitter. As much as the offense has hurt the team in the past, this game saw solid contact on the ball all the way down the lineup with Mahala pulling out a second amazing feat in landing a huge home run along with fellow senior Jacob Henson.
Hensons hit was even more of a surprise but was a welcome change that impressed both head coach Pete Pavusek and assistant coach Nicholas Perkins. Maybe this is a start, Pavusek said. We moved Jacob down in the order, got more fastballs, and he came through. Took a little pressure off of him from being in that two spot and moved him on down let him see some fast balls and see if we can get him going. Maybe this is a start for him too. Were going to enjoy it.
For Perkins the win was a direct result from both Henson and Mahala stepping up their personal games. Were hard on Jacob Henson because we know his ability, we know his athleticism, we know his strength and weve always since his 2010 freshman season expected big things out of him, Perkins said. Maybe sometimes we just have high expectations, but tonight he played up to his potential, up to the caliber of player he is and we need him to play like this consistently. Two players stepped up for us tonight that we needed, Ryan Mahala and Jacob Henson. On good teams your best players play like your best players and tonight those two were out there.
For Mahala on the pitching mound it was back to the strong performances seen at the end of the season last year. It was a near perfect game with 12 strikeouts and just four walks in all seven innings. By the end of the night the farthest North got was a third base run in the bottom of the third inning. Fortunately that advance was cut short by a catch in right field the delivered the final out.
Even taking away Mahalas and Hensons big hits, the offense was still in good shape overall, with seniors like Judd Hammons and even freshmen players like Alex Tressler and Payton Fenner getting time on base. Mahala ended up walking away with the most RBIs attributing four of the teams seven runs to advances he made, including one near home run that ended up in an over the fence catch.
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