GARY | Calumet's Marcus Jackson was 'dialed in' on the mound, and there wasn't much West Side could do to stop him in the early going.
Jackson struck out eight consecutive Cougars batters between the first and fourth innings, a dominant stretch that allowed the Warriors to record a 10-6 victory over West Side in the championship game of the Joe "Moose" Gates Classic, part of the ninth annual RailCats High School Challenge.
"It feels really good; you just try to go out there and throw strikes, which I've been having trouble with," said Jackson, who ended up with 15 strikeouts. "It feels good to finally break through in a game like this. We're all happy."
During Jackson's eight strikeout stretch, Calumet (2-1) squandered several offensive opportunities, so his dominance was even more important when the Warriors were staked to a 1-0 lead after 3 1/2 innings.
"When you're doing good, you don't want to change anything -- you just keep coming from the same spot," said Jackson, who added a two-run triple in the Calumet seventh inning. "The curveball was working, so I just kept going with it."
Jackson would survive a late West Side (1-1) rally in the final two innings, as a sacrifice fly from Todd Porter plated Jimmy Dunham for the game's final run. Jackson then got Malcolm Jordan to pop out before striking out Anthony Cherry to end the threat. Dunham's single in the bottom of the sixth inning broke a possible no-hitter for Jackson.
"We got a good performance out of Marcus. He threw the ball well," Calumet coach Roger Azbill said. "Basically, he's been struggling a little bit with his control. Today, he locked it in."
Calumet appeared to break the game open with a five-run seventh inning, capped by Joshua Joseph's RBI-double.
However, West Side's late rally showed Cougars coach Greg Campbell that his team has some fight in it.
"I'm proud of them," he said. "A lot of them are new guys. This is a rebuilding year for us, but at the same time I expect them to play up to expectations. If our pitching holds steady, I could see our team winning ballgames this year."
In the consolation game, Roosevelt put up nine runs in the bottom of the third inning, cruising to a 17-6 win over Lew Wallace in five innings.