One and done

Studies have shown that procrastination can actually be good for you.

But we'll talk about that later.

In the case of Jefferson City vs. Helias, however, why wait?

The sooner, the better, and the more, the merrier.

On opening day of this baseball season --- and in another head-scratching, wild and wacky affair --- the Jays scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday to pull out an improbable 11-10 win over the Crusaders at Vivion Field.

The multitude of memorable moments just grew larger. Again.

"Typical Jeff City-Helias," Jays coach Brian Ash said. "Both teams showed a lot of heart today and came out and played a really good baseball game."

Well, it wasn't always good. But what it lacked in artistic success, it made up for it with plenty of thrills.

"From a coaching standpoint," Helias coach Chris Wyrick said, "I wasn't too thrilled about it."

After the game, Wyrick was, well ... let's just say he hadn't captured the festive mood of this St. Patrick's weekend.

"I'm disappointed in the way we played defense and pitched," he said. "When you score 10 runs on 11 hits, you should probably win that game.

"We don't make excuses. It doesn't matter if it's the first day or the 15th day, you can still play catch, you can still throw the ball 80 feet and have somebody catch it.

"It falls on my shoulders for not getting them prepared to play."

On a gray, chilly day, this was two punch-drunk boxers trading head blows and body shots.

In other words, nothing new.

"That's what this rivalry is all about," Ash said. "You think somebody's delivered the knockout punch, but the other team always comes back."

It was tied 1-1 after two innings; Helias led 4-1 after three, thanks to a three-run double by Cole Distler; it was 5-2 after four and 6-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, when the Jays tied it with four runs on five hits.

"Resiliency," Ash said. "At any point early in the game, we could have folded up after they had that four-run lead."

It was only starting to get interesting.

In the sixth, Hayden Lee --- who had four hits for Helias --- was tagged out in a rundown between third and home after a botched squeeze attempt. In the bottom of the frame, the Jays took a 7-6 lead on a triple by Dylan Brauner and sacrifice fly by Gabe Marcantonio.

"From the fans' standpoint," Wyrick said, "the fans always get into it and it's usually a game like this. Very rarely is it a blowout, very rarely is it meaningless.

"And today was no different."

With help from an error, Helias scored two runs in the seventh to take an 8-7 lead. Then, with help from a Helias error in the bottom of the frame, the Jays tied it 8-8.

Bonus baseball.

"We chipped away and answered," Ash said. "Balls didn't bounce our way, at times, but at the end of the day, we stuck to the game plan, kept battling and grinding, and were able up with the big hit in the eighth to come away with the victory."

The Crusaders scored two unearned runs in the eighth. The Jays got within 10-9 when Jake Pridgin scored on a wild pitch, before a four-pitch walk to Hayden Stroebel put runners at first and second with one out.

Next pitch ... bam, a two-run double off the left field fence by Brenden Ogletree to cap the three-run rally and gave the Jays the unlikely win.

"As good of a hitter as Hayden Stroebel is, that's going to happen a lot," Ash said. "They're going to pitch around him.

"But in my opinion, that was the perfect scenario for us. I thought Brenden was going to get a fastball and if he did, he was going to hammer it. That's what he did."

What a game. Again. Remember: the sooner, the better, and the more, the merrier.

Sadly, however, this is the only time the teams are scheduled to play this season.

One and done.

"At the end of the day," Ash said, "if you play Rock Bridge, Hickman and Helias six times out of the year, that's one third of your schedule. For us, if you can go around the state to St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield ... I want to see other teams.

"That's why this one game makes it even better, in my opinion."

Said Wyrick: "It wasn't my decision."

Corey Beard got the win for the Jays, who received three hits and two RBI from Rylie Klosterman, and two hits apiece from Brauner, Marcantonio and Sam Atkinson.

For Helias, Lane Caldwell had two hits and two RBI, while Jordan Backes and Jared Bentlage both added two hits. Bentlage pitched the eighth and took the loss.

Springfield Glendale took part in this opening day bonanza. Behind the pitching of Travis Hennessy, the Jays beat Glendale 3-2, while Helias lost to Glendale 6-5.

As far as our discussion about procrastination goes, it can wait.

It appears the same goes for this great rivalry.