Prep Baseball Report

Division II Team Of The Week: Week 3 - Jackson

Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer and Editor in Chief/NW Scout

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Division II Team Of The Week: Week 3 - Jackson

JACKSON - How good has the start to the season been for Jackson?

“I’ve never taken out a pitcher throwing a no-hitter before and I’ve done it twice already this year,” head coach Josh McGraw said.

The one-two pitching punch of Bryson Brown and Drew Bragg has led the way thus far for the Ironmen, winners of nine straight to open the season including a 4-0 record at Myrtle Beach to earn the honor of Prep Baseball Report Division II Team of the Week. Brown threw six innings of no-hit ball on the trip to South Carolina where Jackson played three teams from New York and one from Pennsylvania, while Bragg pitched the same number of frames permitting one hit.

“We’ve only given up 22 hits in nine games so far,” pointed out McGraw. “We’re playing well and the offense is putting it together a little. We got a little warmer weather down there and our bats came alive. We’ve pitched well all year, but until Myrtle Beach we hadn’t hit. Even our outs were hit hard down there.”

There was more that McGraw liked about going south.

“The big goal was to get guys to spend time together and it worked better than I thought it would,’ the ninth-year coach said about the first-ever trip to Myrtle Beach. “We have some younger guys on the team that roomed with older players and the guys spent time together hanging out. Toward the end of the week I saw our communication was better. It was good to get everybody together.”

Brown, a senior right-hander committed to West Virginia State who also plays left field for the fifth-ranked D-II team in Ohio, and Bragg, a Mount Vernon Nazarene commit who is at first base when not pitching, get help on the mound from a pair of sophomores, Cade Wolford and Lane Erwin.

The staff goes deeper with freshman Tucker Williams throwing five innings of no-hit ball in one outing this season before sophomore Boston Campbell came in to complete the no-no.

Aiding the staff is catcher Caeleb McGraw, the head coach’s son who bats clean-up and is also a Mount Vernon signee.

“We can throw a lot of pitches knowing it’s not going to the backstop,” the Jackson mentor said.

Another Mount Vernon commit is shortstop Holden Blankenship, called a “wizard with the glove” by his head coach.

Senior Alec Gilliland is a first-year starter at DH and third base who leads Jackson in batting at .481.

“He didn’t start the first two games, I guess it was ‘bad coaching.’” McGraw said. “He got his chance and exploded.”

The head coach has high praise when it comes to his senior class.

“They’re our leaders, six of them,” McGraw noted. “They’ve played together forever. They’re used to me and they know the program.”

Junior third baseman Landon Camp, the six-hole hitter, is another big contributor for the Ironmen, which face a tough week ahead with games scheduled against Chillicothe, Washington Court House and Miami Trace.

“We’ve just got to hit,” explained McGraw, who last year led Jackson to a share of the Frontier Athletic Conference championship for the first time in the five years it has existed. “I think our pitching will be solid, but when we get against tough pitchers we’ve got to put it in play.”

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