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Jayhawks close out season 1 win shy of playoff berth

- Senior Riley Jordan takes his first at bat of the year. He was walked to first base and then was driven all the way around for a run. The crowd went crazy.
Senior Riley Jordan takes his first at bat of the year. He was walked to first base and then was driven all the way around for a run. The crowd went crazy.
- Jimmy Malik, first baseman, snags a grounder and tags the runner out.
Jimmy Malik, first baseman, snags a grounder and tags the runner out.
PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit - Zach Altieri arrives safely at first base.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit</em></div>Zach Altieri arrives safely at first base.

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By Dave Moio
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Moral victories might be good for the soul, but they are not very good for playoff contenders. Actual victories are much more useful in that regard.

Jeannette's baseball program scored a moral victory in 2014 by finishing at the .500 mark for the second consecutive season, but, for the second consecutive season, one more actual victory would have gotten the Jayhawks to where they wanted this season to go — the WPIAL playoffs.

Exactly like 2013, the 2014 Jayhawks had a chance to seal their own playoff fate with a Section 4 AA win over rival Greensburg Central Catholic and, exactly like 2013, Jeannette let the opportunity slip through their hands — their very young, largely inexperienced hands.

“We represented ourselves very well this season even though we were very young in some areas,” said Jeannette head coach Marcus Clarkson. “We had to rely on two freshmen to pitch in the Greensburg Central Catholic game and that is a lot to ask of those young kids, but we did not have a choice, it was the hand we were dealt.”

Jeannette was forced to go with freshmen Michael Pompey Jr. and Blaze Tran against GCC because all of the upperclassmen had pitched more recently and did not have enough rest.

Pompey was effective early and the Jayhawks and Centurions were tied, 1-1 after three, but then lightning struck.

Literally.

Three lightning delays in the span of an hour and a half cut Pompey's outing short and Tran was forced into action.

“It is a shame because I think Michael was really pitching well,” said Clarkson. “Blaze came in and did well, but we just couldn't overcome a good opponent.”

The 8-3 loss meant Jeannette had to beat Steel Valley in the section finale to clinch a playoff spot, but the Jayhawks fell 10-4 and their playoff hopes were vanquished.

Jeannette closed out the regular season last Wednesday with a 17-11 non-section win over St. Joseph's.

Clarkson used the game to pay tribute to senior all-section catcher Michael Wise for his four years of excellence with the baseball program.

“I asked Michael where he wanted to play and he said left field, so he played left,” said Clarkson.

“Then with two outs in the seventh, I pulled Michael and put in his brother. It was a cool moment when he came off the field to all of the cheers.

“He definitely earned that.”

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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