By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
Landon Mura struck out 17 batters during game one, and Tucker Spence struck out 8 during the second game as J.U. Blacksher swept an April 5 doubleheader from Elberta High and earned a shot at the AHSAA area championship.
Blacksher defeated the Warriors by scores of 10-0 and 7-6.
“I am very proud of these guys,” head coach Justin Mixon said. “Mura continued his dominance on the mound, and nothing about this guy surprises me anymore. If the game would have gone seven innings, it’s very possible he would have struck out 20 batters.”
Mura, who set a new JUB school record last month with his 18-strikeout performance against Excel High, was very close to breaking that record against Elberta before he was pulled after the sixth inning.
“He was able to strikeout 17 in just six innings,” said Mixon. “The guy is a force not to be reckoned with on the mound.”
The Bulldogs were able to hit the ball with pinpoint precision during the first game.
Mura singled and drove in a run; Michael Redditt scored 2 runs and drove in three; Talan Daughtry had a double; Peyton Wilkins drove in a runner, and Will Brown scored twice and had a sacrifice bunt.
Jayce Sells also scored a run, while Dawson Hollinger scored once and drove in two runs, and Spence drew a walk.
The Bulldogs were able to end the game against Elberta in only six innings, with no Elberta runners touching home plate.
In the second contest, Spence recorded his 8 strikeouts in a little more than six innings.
“Spence really gave us a great effort on the mound,” Mixon said. “He competed his tail off, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
The JUB coach added that his players were a little worried about the result of the game and didn’t play free and easy. As a result, things started off shakily for JUB.
It was a Mura homer that lit the offensive fuse and settled the Bulldogs down.
“Mura came up with a huge homerun in the fourth inning, and that helped to ease nerves and calm the guys down,” Mixon said. “After Mura made the huge play, guys began to calm down and find the confidence that was demonstrated during game one.”
After Mura’s homer, several other Bulldogs were able to sight the ball in.
Damon Rolin gained a run and a walk, Redditt and Sells both singled to drive in runners.
Wilkins had a good night at the plate with a sacrifice fly to drive in two and scored once.
During the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs, Brown came up with a big hit that drove in Daughtry for the win.
“We are so thankful for everyone that has supported us all season,” Mixon said. “Now we are able to focus on postseason play and have a real shot at winning the area championship.”
The Bulldogs will host Cottage Hill in the opener of a best-of-three series for the area championship this Thursday, April 11, at 4 p.m. They will travel to Cottage Hill on Friday. The first game starts at 4 p.m., with a second game to follow, if needed.