By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
PLANO – Jacob Palisch threw a shutout as Jesuit beat Rowlett 5-0 in the decisive third game of a Class 6A Region II area round series on Saturday.
Palisch fanned seven Rowlett batters, and Nic Ready blasted a three-run homer in the first inning as the Rangers secured a spot in the regional quarterfinals against familiar foe Highland Park.
It was quite a difference from Friday night’s game against Rowlett, the second game of the series, when Jesuit’s bats were cold in a 1-0 defeat.
“Our pitching has been solid throughout the playoffs, including [Friday] night,” said Jesuit head coach Brian Jones. “But faced with adversity, and a solid performance by Palisch, our bats came alive early in the game today and we got the win.”
In Friday’s pitchers’ duel, Jesuit out-hit the Eagles (15-10-1) but could not string together consecutive hits in a 1-0 loss at Jesuit.
Kyle Muller, a verbal commit to the University of Texas, pitched a three-hit complete game but suffered the loss as the Rangers (29-2-2) were cold at the plate.
Saturday’s game was markedly different, as Jesuit pounced on Rowlett early, backed by Ready’s deep shot against the wind in the top of the first.
“He made me look foolish with a curve ball on the pitch before,” said Ready. “On the next pitch, he threw that same curve ball down and in, and I was able to get my hands around.”
Ready’s home run put the Rangers up 3-0, and Palisch spread out four hits over seven innings to give Jones a nice belated birthday present. Jesuit suffered only its second loss of the season in Friday’s defeat, which happened to be on Jones’ birthday.
“We knew they were scrappy and that’s how they played all series long,” Jones said of Rowlett. “We were able to turn the tables today and it was just a matter of getting good at-bats, which we were able to do.”
The Rangers added to their lead in the top of the second playing small ball.
With two outs, Cameron Dobbs reached base on a bunt. Mark Ready’s walk advanced Dobbs to second, and Darius Hill’s single to left scored Dobbs to put Jesuit ahead 4-0.
In the next inning, Nic Ready led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Grant Reuben. Bryce Bonner’s single to left scored Ready and the Rangers took a 5-0 lead into the fourth inning.
“We wanted to get on the board early,” said Jones. “It was a big sigh of relief to do that, because it didn’t happen in the first two games of the series.”