Jackson starting pitcher Bryson Brown goes into his wind up against Circleville in a Division II sectional final on Thursday. (Photo By Ron Butcher)
Jackson starting pitcher Bryson Brown goes into his wind up against Circleville in a Division II sectional final on Thursday. (Photo By Ron Butcher)

JACKSON – The top-seeded and state ranked Jackson Ironmen saw their 2022 season come to an end on Wednesday afternoon at Dick “Sparky” Haller Field, as they fell to No. 8 seeded Circleville 9-2 in the Division II Sectional Championship game.

With the loss, the Ironmen finished the season with a 20-4 record, while Circleville improved to 15-11 and advanced to next Monday’s semifinal to face Washington Court House in the district tournament at Ohio University.

Heading into the top of the sixth inning the game was even at 2-2, but during that half-inning, the entire complexion of the game changed. The Tigers quickly loaded the bases after Wyatt Thatcher, Nick Burns, and Angelo Travis singled off Jackson starting pitcher Bryson Brown. Then Logan Smith drew a walk to bring home the go-ahead run.

That forced Jackson head coach Josh McGraw to turn to Lane Erwin, who gave up a two-run single to Austin Gray and a walk to Drew Thornsley to load the bags again.

Gaven Jones came on in relief of Erwin and issued a walk to Matt Bradley for an RBI and Nolan West hit into a fielder’s choice, as Gray was forced out at home for the first out of the inning.

Scottie Moats then grounded out to first, and Thornsley scored to make it a 7-2 game. Circleville added two more runs on a double by Thatcher to cap a seven-run outburst and turn a 2-2 battle into a 9-2 lead.

Although the damage was done, Jones struck out Burns to end the inning.

“We played a good team tonight,” said McGraw. “They (Circleville) played better than we did and that is just kind of how baseball is. This loss is the hardest one there is.

“Every year at the end of the year, you spend so much time with these kids, and then it’s over.”

Jackson took control of the game early, as Drew Bragg led off the bottom of the second with a single and Landon Camp followed with a home run to deep center field off Circleville starting pitcher Carson Cox.

The Tigers would answer in the third with an RBI single by Bradley and two innings later, Thornsley doubled, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 2-2.

Thatcher finished with three hits, including a double and three RBI for the Tigers, who finished the game with nine hits for the game.

Jackson’s offense was limited to just four hits, including two by Bragg and one by Camp and AJ Graham.

Brown took the loss in five-plus innings pitched with eight strikeouts. He issued six runs on six hits and walked three. Erwin pitched to two batters and gave up two runs, while Jones tossed two innings, allowing one run on two hits, and struck out one.

Cox allowed two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and two walks to capture the complete-game victory for Circleville.

It was the final game for Jackson seniors Caeleb McGraw, Jake Malone, Alec Gilliland, Holden Blankenship, Bragg, and Brown.