Jets handle Tennessee teams in comfortable setting of Toyota Field
By Caleb Odom (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MADISON — The scoreboard gleamed brightly, and the grass of Toyota Field was immaculate as James Clemens baseball took down Creek Wood (TN) 7-3 on Thursday, March 23.
The Jets have made themselves comfortable in recent years at the home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
“We enjoy coming here,” James Clemens head coach Johnny Johnson said.
“The Trash Pandas do a very good job of being hospitable and letting us have this tournament and have since that year that we were coming out of COVID. They’ve been great to work with and just keep a wonderful field. And for our guys, what a wonderful venue to come play in.”
The stage for this matchup was special and the game did not disappoint either.
The Jets were led offensively by third baseman Nate Guyse who ended up with a home run and two sacrifice flys that gave him a total of three RBIs in the victory.
James Clemens grabbed the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Colten Payton’s sacrifice fly scored the speedy Francisco Ramirez who had singled the at bat before.
Not to be outdone, up stepped Guyse right after Payton and all the third baseman did was unload on a pitch with an echoing crack.
The ball was launched deep to left field where it hit the top of the fence on the yellow stripe.
“If I’m going to be honest here, I think it did hit the yellow,” Guyse said.
“That’s why I stopped at second. I was about to hit my double celly.”
As Guyse was planning his celebration and making sure he didn’t trip over his own feet, the umpires called the ball a home run so that was that.
“Oh, it was a once in a lifetime thing,” Guyse said.
“I’ve always dreamed of hitting a bomb here. Really it was surreal to be real.”
The home run made James Clemens’ advantage 2-0 after an inning.
Creek Wood got back into the game in the top of the third inning thanks to Wyatt Lovell’s 2-run double that knotted the score at 2-2.
One of the bigger moments of the contest came in the bottom of the third when Luke Davenport gave the Jets the lead once more with his RBI triple that made it 3-2 Jets.
“I was hunting a fastball in that at bat,” Davenport said.
“Something up in the zone and that’s what he gave me. The at bat before, my timing was kind of off so I was really trying to get my foot down and work through the ball.”
On the mound, James Clemens turned to the lefty Satchel Wheeler who tossed six innings with six strikeouts and two walks while allowing two runs and five hits.
“So, I struggled a little bit in the first few innings,” Wheeler said.
“I walked too many people, gave up a few hits but I found a way. I started throwing a lot of strikes. My offspeed started commanding a lot better and that’s really what we are looking for.”
The run support was ever-present for Wheeler who had settled into the game in the later innings.
The Jets hung two runs on the Red Hawks in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings to lead 7-2 going into the top of the seventh.
Creek Wood was able to score one run in the seventh against Hunter Harris, who had entered the game in relief for Wheeler, but it would not be enough as the Jets held on for the win.
Friday, March 24: James Clemens 5, Oakland (TN) 0
The Jets returned to Toyota Field on Friday night where they proved to be too much for Oakland, blanking the Patriots 5-0 with Luke Davenport on the mound.
Davenport was his usual self out there for James Clemens throwing five scoreless innings with one hit and one walk while racking up nine strikeouts.
“I felt really good coming out of the bullpen today,” Davenport said.
“I hadn’t thrown much this week. It was a pretty light week, so I had a lot of energy coming out there today.”
The Jets ace pounded the zone and left the Patriots shaking their heads in frustration under the lights of the Trash Pandas stadium.
“I felt like I haven’t really had to bring out my curveball much this year,” Davenport said.
“It’s mostly been fastball, slider and two-seam. But tonight, I got to bring it out some and it was really effective today. I threw really well.”
The offense for James Clemens picked up where it left off on Thursday with two big innings to open the game.
An RBI single by catcher Colten Payton in the bottom of the first drove in second basemen Francisco Ramirez and then Payton was knocked in by Nate Guyse an at bat later.
When the dust had settled, the Jets had a 3-0 lead for Davenport after one inning.
It was more of the same in the bottom of the second inning when shortstop Andrew Lawrence’s RBI single plated Aiden Cook who had led off the inning with a bunt single and a stolen base.
The second inning also showcased the relentlessness of Hayden Markfort who reached base on a throwing error by the Oakland shortstop.
As the James Clemens right fielder neared first base, he was elbowed in the face by the Patriots first basemen who dropped the ball.
Not to be deterred, Markfort picked himself up off of the dirt, promptly stole second base, moved to third on a balk and eventually came in to score a fifth run for the Jets that would be all they needed.