Janco & the Redhawks take down Irmo

BLYTHEWOOD – After seeing his team struggle to get runs across over the past several weeks, John Janco said he felt a lot lighter Tuesday night.

Janco held Irmo batters in check for five out of his six innings on the mound, and then went 4-for-4 at the plate with two doubles as the Redhawks snapped a 3-game skid with a 5-2 victory over the Yellow Jackets.

“It’s almost rejuvenating,” he said. “We finally pulled everything together and the score shows it. We won the ballgame fair and square.”

Janco led Westwood’s 10-hit attack, as well as lasting six innings on the mound, giving up two runs on six hits, striking out five and walking three.

“He’s pretty much come through in the clutch all season for us,” Westwood head coach Mike McDermott said. “We know that any time he’s on the bump we have a chance, and he helped himself out at the plate too.”

Westwood (8-10, 1-5 Region 4-4A) had no problem getting on base against Irmo, but did struggle to get runs in scoring position across. The Redhawks left nine on base, and six in scoring position.

Even so, Westwood drove in enough runs to get its first region victory.

Westwood started the bottom of the first with back-to-back one-out singles from Donnie Weston and Janco, but as Liam Ginnery batted, Weston was tagged out going for home. Ginnery then struck out to end the inning and strand courtesy runner Kendell Gandy at third.

The Redhawks had better luck in the second. Zach Gore led off the inning with a single, and moved to second and then third on Gabriel Espinosa’s one-out sacrifice.

Brendan Grindstaff drew a walk and Sam Williams was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Xavier DeJesus then hit a single into leftfield that scored Gore to give Westwood a 1-0 lead, but Weston flied out to retire the side and strand three baserunners.

Irmo took a 2-1 lead on Tate McCarty’s 2-out, 2-run single to leftfield, but that lead didn’t last.

Janco opened the bottom of the third doubling to straightaway centerfield, Ginnery drew a walk, and Gore singled to right-centerfield to score Gandy, Janco’s courtesy runner.

Colby Linn grounded out and Espinosa flied out, but Irmo starting pitcher Carson Rivers threw a wild pitch as he faced Grindstaff, which scored Ginnery to make it 3-2.

Rivers, who lasted all of 2 2/3 innings, left the mound for reliever Thomas Taylor. Taylor struck out Williams to retire the side.

Janco and Westwood clung to that lead over the next three innings. Janco had trouble in each of those innings, but he and the Redhawks defense stranded two Irmo baserunners in the fourth, two more in the fifth, and three in the sixth.

Westwood finally got some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, when Janco started things up with a 2-out single. Ginnery then hit into a fielder’s choice, but was ruled safe at first when the umpire ruled that he beat the throw. Irmo tried to throw out Janco’s courtesy runner, Gandy, but he slid into third safely. 

With runners on the corners, Gore tagged a 2-2 pitch into the left centerfield gap for a ground single that easily scored Gandy and moved Ginnery to second. Ginnery jumped for third as Linn batted, then when the catcher’s throw went into left field, he came home for the second run to make it 5-2 Redhawks.

Linn drew a walk, but Espinosa flied out to centerfield to end the inning.

“Honestly we should have scored a lot more runs,” McDermott said. “We had runners on base pretty much every inning. We’ve been hitting well, it’s just that we’ve been scratching a few of those runs when we get them in scoring position. We need to do a better job.”

Gandy came on the mound to start the seventh. He gave up a 1-out hit but got McCarty to ground out and the game ended on a called third strike to Julian Scott.

Westwood travels to Irmo today. McDermott said this week after spring break marks the Redhawks’ run for the postseason. Westwood was in sixth place going into Tuesday’s game, but Irmo and Richland Northeast had only one region win.

From that point, McDermott said that if the Redhawks win three out of their next four games, their postseason slot will be solidified.

“Basically that’s been our approach,” he said. “We played pretty good over spring break even though we dropped a few games, but we carried over the mentality of starting our playoff run in spring break. Our whole mentality is that the playoffs start now. We have the roadmap on the board (in the dugout) and we’re going to mark it off as we go.”

Janco has a good feeling that the Redhawks can do so, as long as the feeling of rejuvenation sticks around.

“This is kind of how are season started in the first place. We’d just win and kept going on and on and on,” he said. “Before we knew it we were 6-0, and we can do the same thing here.”

Tuesday

Irmo – 0-0-2-0-0-0-0   — 2, 6, 0

Westwood – 0-1-2-0-0-2-0 — 5, 11, 1

WP: John Janco. LP: Carson Rivers.

Hitters: I – Jaylen Frey 2-3. Tate McCarty 2 RBI. W – John Janco 4-4, 2B (2). Zach Gore 3-3, 2  RBI. Donnie Weston 2-4.

April 13

Cardinal Newman – 0-0-0-0-3-0 — 3, 7, 0

Westwood – 0-0-0-0-0-0-0 — 0, 4, 3

WP: M Hafner. LP: Colby Linn

Hitters: C – P Hocutt 2-4. W Bailey 2-3. W – Xavier DeJesus 2-3.

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