Jefferson earns sweep as Raiders fan 26 times
HILLSBORO, Mo. -- The Raiders consistently won the two-strike battle against Jefferson but were on the wrong side of strike three most of the time.
Starting Three Rivers pitchers Abe Young and Tyler Kuhlmann, and then their relief pitchers, were perpetually ahead in the count.
The Raider pitching staff, though, got eight strikeouts against 24 hits and were swept 8-4 and 9-1 on Thursday at Jefferson.
"In that respect, we are winning the two-strike battle, just weren't able to put them away," Three Rivers coach Stacey Burkey said. "We were really close to putting together some good pitching performances in those games."
The Raider lineup, meanwhile, struck out 26 times.
The Raiders gave up a pair of big innings to fall behind early in both games. Jefferson (21-11, 7-3 Region XVI) scored four runs in the second inning of the opener to take a 5-1 lead, then got five runs in the fourth inning of the nightcap to go ahead 7-1.
The Raiders (10-19, 3-7) had chances early and late in the opener. Sam Kraus singled with one out in the first inning and Logan Carter drove one to the gap. Carter was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, and clean-up hitter Alex Lewis had a hard hit groundout to strand Kraus at third.
"To get to good pitchers, you've got to get to them early," Burkey said.
Instead of putting a crooked number on the scoreboard early, the Raiders managed 11 at bats over the first three innings, two over the minimum, and allowed Jefferson pitcher Doug Still to settle in.
Still (7-0) pitched into the seventh inning and was relieved after the Raiders loaded the bases with one out.
Three Rivers was down 8-2 at the time and Raymond Sankitts and Tyler Mathys scored late. Sankitts and Carter each finished with two hits and a run.
Kuhlmann allowed 11 hits and a walk with five strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings for the Raiders.
In the nightcap, the Raiders couldn't do much against Jefferson pitcher Anthony Herron, who struck out 16 over 7 2/3 innings.
The Raiders struck out 17 times in the game, their most in a game in at least four seasons.
"He threw as well as anybody we've seen all year," Burkey said. "He's a legitimate pro prospect."
Burkey added that Herron (4-1) was consistently throwing between 92-94 mph and was getting his breaking pitches over.
Declan Wallace connected for a home run over the scoreboard in the fourth inning for the Raiders' only run.
Young pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Raiders in the loss and finished with three strikeouts, three walks and eight hits against.
"Both our starting pitchers, Kuhlmann and Young, they threw a high strike percentage. They got to two strikes a lot," Burkey said. "Just being a game of inches and being able to finish a hitter off is pretty huge."
Burkey added that 64 percent of hitters had two strikes in the first game and 74 percent did in the second game.
Both Raider relief pitchers, Tyler McLevain for Kuhlmann (2-4) and Toby Miller for Young (1-3), had successful appearances.
McLevain got two quick outs in the sixth to escape a jam. Miller pitched four innings in the nightcap and allowed two hits and two walks with no strikeouts.
Burkey said his pitchers tried to be aggressive but not too fine against the Vikings' lineup, which has nine players hitting .300 or better and the first six batters have at least 20 RBIs.
"Both out starters showed flashes of making those two strike pitches that were really good," Burkey said. "Jefferson was able to put some balls in play and get some production out of that."
In Saturday's 1 p.m. rematch at Roger Pattillo Field, Tyson Campbell and Drew Dowd are expected to take the mound for the Raiders.