The North Jackson baseball program fought the weather and field conditions for two days before it finally conquering it enough to host its first-round Class 4A best-of-three playoff series on Saturday.
The Chiefs then conquered Danville.
No. 2-ranked North Jackson swept the Hawks 11-1 and 10-0 to advance to the second round. Both games were called early because of the run-rule, Game 1 ended in the fifth inning and Game 2 ended in the sixth.
North Jackson (22-4) plays either Oneonta or Fayette County in a second-round series scheduled to begin Friday, April 26. Oneonta and Fayette County split the first two games of their first-round series on Saturday at OHS and were scheduled to play a decisive Game 3 Monday night.
The Chiefs had 26 hits in the series against Danville (9-13) while pitchers John Matthews and Carter Gass held the Hawks to only three hits. Gass pitched a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts in Game 2 while Matthews struck out six while tossing a three-hitter in Game 1.
““I thought we played very well. We had a very good week of practice and were prepared even though we had to move the games (from Friday) to Saturday. The field wasn’t in its normal playing condition, but we stayed locked in and I was proud of that,” said North Jackson head coach Cole Porter.
“Performance wise we did the two main things very well. (Our) pitchers threw the ball great in both games. John Mathews set the tone in Game 1 and Carter Gass followed with a no-hitter in Game 2. Hitting-wise, we stuck to the approach of staying through the middle of the field and it showed.”
In Game 1, Jody Moore went 3-for-4 with three doubles and two RBIs for the Chiefs and Brandon Poole was 2-for-3 with two RBIs while Deshawn Ware was 2-for-2 with an RBI and Jordan Eakin was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Gass and Landon Barnes had one hit and one RBI each and Cade Bellomy and Luke Guess had one hit each.
In Game 2, Poole went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Bellomy, Eakin and Ware all had two hits and one RBI each. Moore hit a two-run homer and Matthews had a two-run double while Landon Barnes singled and Logan Morris walked twice.
North Jackson is back in the second round of the playoffs for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
“Very happy for our guys and everyone a part of North Jackson baseball,” Porter said, “but we’ve got to go back to work this week. (The next series) will be the biggest test of the year.”