The Jacksonville Indians, sparked by a clutch piece of hitting by Mason Smith and a top shelf pitching performance by Ruston Diers, simply refused to lose in their non-district game against Rusk on saturday afternoon at Summers Norman Field.
Smith looped a single into right field with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning that drove Brett Eckles in to score the winning run as the Tribe (9-20) came from behind to edge the Eagles 3-2.
Diers, one of seven seniors who were honored in a pre-game ceremony, made sure his last performance at the JHS diamond was a memorable one.
Diers held the Eagles, who are in first place in District 19-3A, to two runs, both unearned, on three hits - all of which were singles. He struck out five and walked two in picking up the 96-pitch complete game victory.
Diers retired 13 of the last 14 Rusk batters that he faced.
Rusk (14-13) led 2-1 going into the Jacksonville half of the seventh.
The Tribe immediately got busy on carving out the comeback with Cash Cleaver delivering a pinch double to the gap in right to lead the frame of for the home team.
With one out, Eckles got aboard when the Rusk catcher could find the handle on the third strike, which allowed the speedy Eckles to beat the throw, with the ball getting past the Eagle first baseman, which gave Cleaver plenty of time to score what became the tying run, with Eckles moving up to second when the throw came in to the plate in an attempt to nab Cleaver.
That set the stage for Smith to do his magic, in walk-off fashion.
Eckles singled to start off the fifth segment for Jacksonville's remaining hit.
The loss spoiled what had been a solid starting outing by the Eagles' tall righty, Morgan Johnson, who was making a spot start for the Red and Black, who had posted a 5-0 win over Center on Friday evening.
Johnson worked five frames and didn't allow any runs while surrendering a lone hit and striking out five.
Jadarian Skinner worked the sixth in relief and allowed Jacksonville's first run.
MIchael Crews then came in and worked the seventh inning.
Rusk broke the scoring ice by plating a run in the second frame.
An Austin Ballew ground out to deep short plated Houston Munsinger from third. Munsinger led the frame off with a base hit up the middle that nearly undressed Diers.
In the top of the sixth Munsinger drove Crews in rom third after Crews stroked a one-out single to the left side.
Each club pulled off a double play and made two errors in the game.
Rusk left four runners stranded, while the Tribe left two aboard.
Jacksonville closes out the regular season tonight with a visit to state-ranked Corsicana.
Rusk played host to Groesbeck last night in a District 19-3A affair. Results of that game were not available as of press time.
NOTE: Seniors, Ruston Diers, Jeff Pryor, Dillion Rodriquez, Trevor Ewalt, Garrett Bonner, Zeke Edwards and Brett Eckles were honored during pre-game Senior Day ceremonies.
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Johnson hired as Lady Guard basketball coach
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Jacksonville College's Abboud pays dividends for Israel’s WNT
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Area softball teams wrap up play in TTA state tourneys
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