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ENERGY EFFICIENT: Karns City Junior Jacob Jones Dominant on the Mound in Four Crisp Innings, Helping Karns City to 6-1 Win Over Curwensville

BUTLER, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Jacob Jones strolled off the Pullman Park mound after the top of the fourth inning with a big lead.

Jones was dominant for Karns City in a 6-1 win over Curwensville in the District 9 Class 2A quarterfinals on Tuesday afternoon. He had given up zero runs on just one hit. Didn’t walk a batter. Fanned six with full command of his filthy stuff.

He was more than capable of continuing. But the junior pitcher for the Karns City baseball team was aware of the most important statistic of all.

His pitch count: 49.

If he handed the ball to a reliever to start the fifth, he would be available for the semifinals on Thursday with no pitch county limitations.

So Jones yielded.

(Pictured above, Jacob Jones)

“I told (Karns City coach Josh ‘Sluggo’ Smith) I was feeling it,” Jones said. “But I understand the scenario that we’re in. To have everyone in rotation for Thursday is definitely huge.”

Jones came into the game with a simple plan. Throw strikes.

Efficiency was something the right-hander has struggled with at times this season. He’s still been effective — he came into the D9 playoffs with a 2.57 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 32⅔ innings. But he had also walked 17 and hasn’t been as sharp as he has liked.

No such problem against Curwensville. Of his 49 pitches, 33 were for strikes.

“I was definitely focused on getting ahead of batters, not falling behind,” Jones said. “That’s something I’ve struggled with this year. So getting ahead in the count and throwing mostly strikes is definitely key for me.”

Smith took Jones aside leading into the game against the Golden Tide and told him clearly the expectations he had for him.

Jones heeded those words.

“I just said, ‘Go out there, be efficient, and I want you ready for Thursday if we get there,’” Smith said. “He was like, ‘Hey, I’m feeling good.’ I was like, ‘I know you are, but we’re in a good spot.’ We have faith in the guys behind him.”

Karns City had left-handed sophomore Colton Christie in the back pocket. Christie hadn’t given up and earned run in 12⅓ innings of relief this season.

Christie did give up a run in the sixth, but also wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam with one out that was critical.

Christie was able to get a called third strike on his best pitch of the game, a breaking ball on the outside corner, and then got a groundout to end the threat with just one run scoring.

“We had the guy we liked up there and it just didn’t work out,” said Curwensville coach Derek Dixon. “We just didn’t get our hits until a little bit later in the game. We have the majority of the team back and we’re looking to do big things next year.”

The Golden Tide beat Brockway, 7-4, on Monday to set up a date with Karns City.

Curwensville used its top pitcher, Andrew Pentz, who went 5⅔, giving up just one unearned run on six hits in the victory.

With Pentz unavailable against the Gremlins, Dixon mixed and matched, using three pitchers.

“Our pitching staff isn’t as deep as we’d like it to be,” Dixon said. “We ran our ace out there yesterday. We knew it was going to be tough bouncing back on one day’s rest, but all in all I was pleased with our performance against a really good team.”

Karns City got to starter Lawson Neiswender with two runs in the first on a RBI single by Tyler Kelly and a passed ball, and chased him with just one out in the second on a run-scoring hit by Koen Williams and a wild pitch on the way to a 4-0 lead after two.

Jones helped himself with a solo home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the third and the Gremlins added another run on a wild pitch in the fourth.

“We played our brand of baseball,” Smith said. “We scored in almost every inning and we put pressure on them. You’re happy with the win, but you’re never happy as a coach because there’s always something to work on. So we’ll go to practice and work on a few things and be ready to go on Thursday.”