Jackson pitcher Drew Bragg struck out 14 hitters in the Ironmen’s 10-0 win over Vinton County on Monday afternoon. (Photo By Ron Butcher)
Jackson pitcher Drew Bragg struck out 14 hitters in the Ironmen’s 10-0 win over Vinton County on Monday afternoon. (Photo By Ron Butcher)

JACKSON – Jackson pitcher Drew Bragg talked about the goal of winning a sectional title back in March.

The right-handed senior certainly made a statement on Monday with a solid pitching performance in a sectional semifinal.

Bragg recorded 14 strikeouts and guided the Ironmen one step closer to a sectional title in a 10-0 win over Vinton County in six innings at Dick “Sparky” Haller Field.

“Anytime you can win a tournament game, no matter what round it is, it’s a big deal,” said Jackson head coach Josh McGraw. “You survive and advance as they say. They (Vinton County) gave us some openings, and we took advantage of them. That’s just part of our game.

“We have good speed throughout our lineup, so we take advantage of that, and we were able to get guys on base today.”

Jackson leaned on Bragg for six innings and 89 pitches in the win. He allowed just two hits, with two walks, and hit two batters.

The Vikings challenged Bragg the most in the second and again in the fourth inning. He gave up walks to Parker Shonborn and Isaiah Allen in the second inning but struck out Dawson Brown and Brayden West to end the inning.

In the fourth, Jarrett Wells led off the inning with a double, and Shonborn was plunked with a pitch to put runners at first and second and no outs. Again, Bragg pitched his way out of the jam, as he fanned Owen Hire, Allen, and Brown to close out the frame.

He went on to retire the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings.

“He was dealing today,” said McGraw. “I felt he got stronger from the third inning on and started throwing the ball hard. I don’t know if he is our No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher. We just go in order, and Drew had one more day of rest than Bryson (Brown), which puts him up for Wednesday.

“Drew just owned the mound and the game from start to finish. He does it a lot, so you are not impressed by it, because it is practically an everyday outing for him. They (Vinton County) struggled with the fastball, and Drew threw a lot of pitches by them.”

The only other hit Bragg allowed was a single by River Hayes in the first inning.

Meanwhile, Bryant Brisker, who allowed seven earned runs, was charged with the loss for the Vikings. He yielded seven hits, two walks, and struck out five in four-plus innings of work. Allen came on in relief in the fifth with the bases loaded and no outs. He pitched two innings and allowed three runs on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

Brisker kept the Ironmen’s offense off-balance through the first two innings, but he was unable to work around a pair of walks to Gaven Jones and Bryson Brown to begin the third inning. From there, Jackson decided to play small ball and was able to open it up and score four runs.

Cade Wolford reached on a bunt single to load the bases, and Boston Campbell beat out a bunt single to plate Jones and put the Ironmen up 1-0.

Caeleb McGraw then lined a pitch into right field, allowing Brown and Wolford to score before Bragg put the finishing touches on the four-run inning with an RBI single to center field.

With two on and no outs in the fifth inning, McGraw singled to right to score Campbell and Holden Blankenship. Then Bragg singled, and McGraw moved to second, which forced Vinton County head coach Jake Brown to turn to Allen in relief.

McGraw stole third and scored on a throwing error to give Jackson a 7-0 lead, and then Noah Ernst reached on an error to plate Bragg, and Brown singled to score Ernst for a 9-0 lead.

In the sixth the Ironmen loaded the bases, and AJ Graham singled to score Blankenship to end the game.

McGraw had three hits and four RBI to lead the Ironmen in their 13-hit attack.

Campbell and Bragg finished with two hits and an RBI apiece, while Ernst, Brown, and Graham each had one hit and one RBI for the Ironmen.

Wolford, Blankenship, and Jones also had one hit each in the win.

The Ironmen have now won 20 games in back-to-back seasons, as they improved to 20-3 with the win.

“That’s a big step for our seniors,” said McGraw. Most of those guys were starters last season. I feel great for them, but they probably don’t have any idea they just got their 20th win on the season, because they don’t care. They just want to win a sectional championship and advance to Ohio University.

“You get their one inning at a time and one pitch at a time. You don’t worry about a whole game.”

Jackson’s chance for a sectional championship will come Wednesday when they play host to Circleville in a 5 p.m. start at Dick “Sparky” Haller Field.