MILL CREEK — Jackson pitcher Steven Ainsworth has had a busy week.
The senior pitched a complete game Friday with eight strikeouts and no walks as the Timberwolves completed a three-game sweep of Kamiak with a 6-2 victory. Ainsworth picked up saves on Tuesday and Wednesday in Jackson’s victories over the Knights.
“He’s fantastic,” Jackson coach Kirk Nicholson said. “He’s a cross-country runner and always in shape. He’s probably the only guy I could have thrown this much in a week just because his legs are good.”
Friday’s start began a bit shaky for Ainsworth. He gave up three consecutive singles with one out in the top of the first inning to load the bases. The Knights, however, failed to take advantage of the opportunity. Ainsworth struck out a batter and then got out of trouble by inducing an inning-ending groundout.
“In tough situations he bears down,” Nicholson said. “The bases are loaded in the first inning and he just bears down, throws strikes and gets out of the (inning). He does everything it takes to get it done because it’s the only thing he knows how to do. He knows how to do it right.”
Ainsworth worked a perfect second and third inning before giving up two runs and three more hits in the top of the fourth inning. He then resettled himself and gave up just one hit the rest of the way.
“I try to pitch with a bend but not break mentality,” Ainsworth said. “I let a couple of baserunners on, but I just wanted to keep throwing strikes and trust in my defense.”
While all of Kamiak’s offense came in one inning, the Timberwolves scored runs in four of the six innings they batted. Jackson scored twice in the bottom of the first on an RBI-single by Alex Cheesman and a sacrifice-fly by Alex Kiel. It padded that lead in the second inning on the strength of a two-run double by Cheesman, making it 4-0 after two innings.
Cheesman’s double, which came with two outs, was hit down the left-field line just out of the reach of Kamiak’s third baseman.
“Any time you get a two-out hit and it scores some runs, it’s huge,” Nicholson said. “He could have just as easily hit to the third baseman instead of finding the hole. Any time that happens it’s pretty nice.”
Cheesman finished 2-for-3 with three RBI for the Timberwolves.
Jackson added a run in the third inning and another in the fifth. The Timberwolves finished with eight hits in the game and didn’t commit an error.
“Taking two of three (games) from anybody is important because then you have the tie-breaker on your side,” Nicholson said. “Obviously when you get your two (wins), you kind of want to be hungry and you kind of want to get the sweep.”
Jackson’s impressive 4-0 start against Wesco 4A South opponents has it in a first-place tie with Cascade. However, Nicholson is quick to point out the season is still young.
“There is a lot of baseball to be played in this month,” he said. “We play 15 games in this month and (we’ve played) the first four. There is a lot of baseball left and were not going to look past anybody. We’re going to play hard every game and we’re going to set up our week just like we did last week and hopefully it works out again.”
At Jackson H.S.
Jordan Meyer, Nicholas Rust (6) and Jacob Long. Steven Ainsworth and Alex Kiel. WP—Ainsworth. LP—Meyer. 2B—Alex Cheesman (J). Records—Kamiak 1-3 league, 3-6 overall. Jackson 4-0, 6-2.