(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Back on the mound Wednesday after over a two week absence, Jackson ace Alex Beussink gave his Senior Babe Ruth squad the kind of performance it needed to finally break over the .500 mark on the season.
Facing the Charleston Woodpeckers, Beussink allowed only one hit and no walks while striking out seven to guide Jackson to a 10-0 win after five innings on the mercy rule.
"I think the plus for us tonight was getting Alex back pitching," Jackson coach Paul Sander said. "He's had a sore arm and hasn't pitched an inning in two-and-a-half weeks then he comes out here tonight and throws a one-hitter.
"If we can get him back every fifth day on the mound that means a lot to this team."
Facing his only trouble of the night in the second frame, Beussink saw an inning opening error by Jackson's third baseman allow Charleston to eventually put runners on second and third with two outs. Protecting the shutout, however, Beussink was able to force a groundout to the second baseman to end the frame.
From that point on, Beussink retired Charleston in order for the final three innings, collecting six of his strikeouts on the way.
"When he's out there at 100 percent he's going to help you a lot and when he's not out there at 100 percent he's not helping him or us," Sander said. "So it was really good to see him out there at 100 percent tonight after having some pretty serious arm soreness for most of this season.
"I don't count pitches, but I'm going to say he didn't throw more than 70. Probably less than 70 which is very good."
With the Woodpeckers holding a shutout of their own threw the first three innings, Jackson came up in the fourth and, with the help of some Charleston struggles in the field, jumped out with an eight-run rally to take hold of the game.
Starting with a single up the middle by Clay Roth, Jackson was able to quickly score another two runs when a Charleston error cleared runners from second and third base.
Derek Landewee and Trent Steffens both drove in runs with two-out singles to keep the rally alive.
After batting around its 10-man order, Jackson's rally was capped when Tyler Koening scored on a passed ball to make it 8-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
"We hit the ball hard and collected some hits, but when they made their mistakes we were right there to take advantage of it and score runs off those mistakes," said Sander. "That's an upgrade over the way we've been playing.
"We've been leaving people all over the bases and leaving them stranded. Tonight we were able to push them across after we got some breaks."
Coming back up in the fifth Jackson scored the final two runs of the contest when Koening and Landewee hit back-to-back singles to score runners from third and activate the mercy-rule.
"They knocked the ball around for two more runs in the fifth, but I think we had about three errors that inning," Charleston coach Paul Bucher said. "We should have been out of that inning even with the hits with no runs scored.
"(Our team) just didn't seem like they wanted to be out here and ready to play today, which is unfortunate."
Collecting 10 hits on the night, Jackson's offense was led by Landewee and Steffens who had a pair of singles each while scoring a run.
The Woodpeckers' lone hit of the game came from left fielder Trey Watkins, whose single in the second inning helped Charleston put runners on first and second and extend Charleston's best chance at a rally during the game.
Jackson won the second game of the doubleheader, 15-4. Jesse Schott pitched a complete game to get the win, allowing four hits while striking out eight.
Trent Steffens had five hits for Jackson.
With the win Jackson moves to 11-9 on the season while the Woodpeckers fall to 4-9.
Jackson 000 82 - 10 10 2
Charleston 000 00 - 0 1 4
WP -- Alex Beussink. LP -- Nathan Holland.