LE SUEUR — The Janesville Jays hit the road to play in the first game of their losers bracket run on Saturday afternoon where they went up against Le Sueur-Henderson and defeated the Braves 8-5.
The Jays got some extra words of wisdom from an experienced head during the game.
“We played well all around. We pitched well, fielded the ball well and really started hitting in the later innings. I stressed being aggressive early at the plate and on the bases and we struggled with that early, but when Lenny Kroll came in and gave the guys an ear full of how he didn’t think we were being as aggressive as we could be, I think a switch was turned on,” coach Scott Kaminski said. “I have invited Lenny in the dugout for the season so he comes and goes. He is intelligent when it comes to ball and having an outsider’s opinion really helps me out when I’m playing and coaching.”
Chad Guse started on the mound for the Jays and contained the Braves early on in the ball game. Le Sueur put a clamp on Janesville early as Scott Kaminski led off in the top of the second with a strikeout and Alex Kjolstad struck out as well. Guse grounded out to end the inning.
Sam Eustice was walked to start the top of the third and able to steal second. Ben Ellingworth hit a ground ball that slipped past the shortstop which helped Eustice reach third. Ellingworth was able to steal second but Brett Taylor flew out to right field to end the inning. Le Sueur was the first team to hit the scoreboard and was able to slip in a run during the bottom of the third to go up 1-0.
Ross Buttleman led off in the top of the fifth and grounded out while Tristan Kroll flew out to right to record two quick outs. But Ellingworth helped jumpstart the offense with a single to center field and a steal of second base. Brett Taylor hit a grounder to short and was able to reach first safely in the nick of time.
Ellingworth scored after a wild pitch got away from the catcher at home plate and Taylor advanced to second. Marshall Miller then slapped a double to left field that scored in Ellingworth which gave the Jays a 2-1 lead. Kaminski followed up with a double of his own deep to center field that scored in Miller and made the score 3-1. Kjolstad flew out to end the inning.
Janesville quickly recorded two outs in the bottom of the fifth but Le Sueur hit back-to-back doubles after that to score another run to make the score 3-2. The Braves hit a soft line drive that was caught near first base to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth inning, Buttleman was walked and then scored after Kroll rocketed a moonshot over the left field fence to make the score 5-3.
The Braves continued to show some fight and in the top of the eighth they had a ground rule double after the ball got lost in the fencing of center field. The team followed up with a single to right field to cut the Janesville lead to one and make the score 5-4.
Buttleman led off the top of the ninth with a double to right field but got caught between the bases trying to reach third for the first out of the inning. Kroll was walked at the next at-bat and then was able to steal both second and third base. Ellingworth hit a ground ball to second, and Kroll ripped home to score after a controversial call. The home base umpire initially called Kroll out but after discussion with the other umpire, they changed the call, helping Janesville gain a 6-4 lead. The Braves pleaded their case for a couple minutes but the call stood.
Taylor hit a double to center field to score Ellingworth, and Kaminski hit a single to center to run in Taylor. The lead shot up to 8-4 which helped Janesville close the door on Le Sueur’s season. The Braves had a last ditch effort in the bottom of ninth and scored in one more run after a walk, a single and an infield hit but it was not enough to overcome the Jays.
“I think we did a good job limiting errors in the field today and capitalizing when Le Sueur made them. We stranded some runners on base early in the game today so that’s something to improve on going into tomorrow’s game,” Tristan Kroll said.
Janesville advanced to the next round where they the road to play Henderson on Sunday at 2 p.m. Henderson dropped down into the losers bracket after losing to Jordan on Saturday evening.
“We are fired up and looking to continue the good pitching, hitting and defense tomorrow. We have some very beatable teams on our side to get to that third place game,” Kaminski said.