Jesse Jones quietly went about his business Thursday and looked very comfortable doing it.
The senior pitcher doesn’t have a lot of flash or a blazing fastball on the mound, but he’s been very efficient in helping Madison High School’s baseball team grab the top spot in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division.
Jones tossed a five-hitter with two strikeouts on 84 pitches in a 3-1 victory over SWBL rival Carlisle as the host Mohawks ran their winning streak to 12.
» THE FIRST MEETING: Madison 2, Carlisle 0
“We’ve been preparing since September with conditioning and lifting. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team,” Jones said. “Our goal is state. I think we can pull it off.”
Madison, 14-2 overall and 10-0 in the SWBL, is expected to be one of the top seeds in Sunday’s Division III Dayton sectional draw.
Yet first-year coach Matt Morrison is taking nothing for granted, even in the midst of a very good streak.
“I always want to make sure I’m not failing the kids,” Morrison said. “They’re special. They’re important to me. There’s just a lot of sleepless nights as a coach, and the past couple nights have been that. Our kids are a battling bunch. We knew these two games were going to be huge for us.”
That critical two-game stretch included Wednesday’s 3-0, eight-inning triumph over Waynesville.
The Mohawks followed that up by topping Carlisle for the second time in six days for a rare regular-season sweep. But junior catcher Cameron Svarda said it wasn’t time to celebrate.
“Obviously we want to win league. It’s there for us,” Svarda said. “But baseball’s baseball. You can lose any day. We control our own destiny right now. That’s what we want.”
Svarda was 3-for-3 with two RBIs for Madison. Teammate Reid Davis contributed two hits and some outstanding defense at shortstop.
“We’re starting to click,” Morrison said. “We’ve pieced together some wins, and today defensively, we just played lights out. Reid up the middle has become a glue for us, and our young guys are playing outstanding defense. We’ve had a lot of hustle plays.”
Carlisle (10-6, 7-2) struck first with a single by Jake Moore and an RBI single by Caleb Stewart in the top of the first. The visitors also had leadoff hits in the second, fifth and seventh innings, but couldn’t cross the plate again.
Brandon Saylor threw a 72-pitch six-hitter in the losing effort. He had three strikeouts and two walks.
“We didn’t play bad,” Indians coach Chris Hawkins said. “They made one or two plays when it mattered and we missed one when it mattered, and that’s the difference in this type of ballgame between two good teams. It’s good competition, good baseball. We’ve still got some young guys gaining experience. We’ll be a better team tomorrow because of it.”
Madison scored twice in the first inning. Svarda’s triple that landed near the center-field fence brought home one run, and he scored on a wild pitch. Davis doubled and came home on Svarda’s single in the third.
Jones took care of the rest. The right-hander gave up two singles and a double to Indians catcher Dane Flatter and issued just one walk.
“My curveball was falling in a lot,” Jones said. “I was pitching to contact and letting my defense work. I didn’t want to give up big hits.”
“His little submarine pitch, every time he would throw it, it would break inside on batters and jam them,” Svarda said. “That’s why he got so many ground balls. People expect it to be a fastball when he does that, so when he throws a curve, it’s really dangerous.”
Morrison said lefty Tristan Sipple, who’s 6-0, and Jones have been a strong 1-2 punch for the Mohawks.
“Jesse Jones has come in and answered every call that we’ve thrown his way,” Morrison said. “He’s got three humongous league wins. We’re just thrilled that he’s having a great senior year. He’s so relaxed out there. He’s just got that demeanor to him … just relax and don’t get bent out of shape.”
Madison will host Williamsburg for a noon doubleheader on Saturday, then Preble Shawnee will come to town Monday. The Arrows are 3-6 in league play, but four of those losses have been by one run.
“We’re going to take Friday off,” said Morrison, who’s also Madison’s athletic director. “Our guys have not had a day off since Feb. 19, and they’ve earned it. I’m going to go enjoy some softball games and the track meet at Fenwick, and we’ll get back at it Saturday.”
The Indians will be at home against Dayton Christian on Friday and on the road to face Stebbins on Saturday.
WP — Jesse Jones (3-1); LP — Brandon Saylor (2-1). Records: C 10-6, 7-2 SWBL Buckeye; M 14-2, 10-0 SWBL Buckeye