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Lakers fall 1-0 at Jasper Semistate

This is how Dylan Collins described Jaxon Cox late Saturday afternoon at Jasper's Alvin C. Ruxer Field: "An A-plus kid. An A-plus athlete. And an A-plus human being."

And the Shakamak High School senior proved his baseball coach to be correct all day.

An argument could be made that Cox is also among the unluckiest high school baseball players around, but he wouldn't agree. "It's just a game," he said through tears when asked if he held any resentment toward the Barr-Reeve team that was celebrating its 1-0 win on the other side of the diamond.

Saturday was the second time in 53 weeks that Cox had held Barr-Reeve without an earned run, and the second time it was the Vikings who celebrated a win that will take them to Victory Field for the Class A state championship game next weekend.

"It just sucks for our seniors: Jaxon Cox, Riley Huckaby and Preston Spicer," Collins said. "They put a lot of work and a lot of time into this team.

"I couldn't be any more proud of [Cox]," the coach continued after awarding the letter grades. "I hurt for him. And Riley Huckaby has come from 0 to 100 in the human-being aspect, and I hurt for him too.

"But our bats haven't been here [at the semistate] the last two years."

Jax Cox pitched out of a first-and-second, one-out situation in the top of the first, showing what he'd be capable of doing all day, but in the top of the second a two-base throwing error put a Viking in scoring position with nobody out.

The state's most dedicated bunting team wasn't going to let that opportunity go to waste and Barr-Reeve scored without hitting the ball 60 feet. A sacrifice put the runner on third and a grounder to the mound brought Cox too far off the mound to make a play at the plate. But that was just one run.

It proved to be enough. Shakamak had runners on base in each of the first five innings, but failed to score.

In the first, Huckaby singled but was forced out at second for the third out. In the second, Madden Husband was hit by a pitch and got into scoring position on a passed ball, but was left there. Jaden Johnson singled and stole second in the third but was also stranded.

Ian Samm led off with a single in the fourth and was immediately bunted into scoring position, but Owen Cox's two-out line drive was run down in right field.

And in the fifth, Jalen Johnson led off with a single, his twin brother's one-out line drive was caught in deep center field and Huckaby got a second hit, but two were left on base.

"It was just a long day," the senior catcher said afterward. "We didn't execute."

Jax Cox, in the meantime, survived Barr-Reeve's first two hits in the fourth inning; gave up a two-out hit in the fifth but Huckaby threw out the runner trying to steal; survived two errors in the sixth; and stranded two Viking runners again in the seventh. But instead of being rewarded for his perseverence by the baseball gods, he and his teammates went out meekly in both the sixth and seventh innings against Viking ace Seth Wagler.

"We just didn't hit the ball," Jax Cox said after the game.

"Jax pitched a great game," Huckaby said. "He did a fantastic job, but we fell short."

"That's baseball," Collins said. "We couldn't get [a clutch hit] to fall."

Jax Cox had one more thing to do to solidify his A-plus status. The four errors made behind him were all made by his younger brother.

"It means the world to me to share the field with him," the pitcher said, tears flowing more noticeably now. "I wish we could do it one more time."

BARR-REEVE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Stoll ss 4-0-0-0, E.Graber cf 2-0-1-0, Wagler p 4-0-0-0, Pauw dh 3-0-1-0, Yoder lf 0-0-0-0, Lester 2b 3-0-0-0, K.Graber c 3-1-1-0, T.Graber rf 1-0-0-0, D.Miller ph-rf 1-0-0-0, Lengacher 1b 2-0-1-1, Wittmer ph 1-0-0-0, Boyd pr-1b 0-0-0-0, Knepp 3b 2-0-0-0. Totals 26-1-4-1.

SHAKAMAK (AB-R-H-RBI) — Jd.Johnson ss 3-0-1-0, Huckaby c 3-0-2-0, Jenkins 1b 3-0-0-0, Samm lf 3-0-1-0, Fiscus cf 2-0-0-0, Husband 2b 2-0-0-0, O.Cox 3b 3-0-0-0, Jl.Johnson rf 3-0-1-0, J.Cox p 3-0-0-0. Totals 25-0-5-0.

Barr-Reeve 010 000 0 — 1

Shakamak 000 000 0 — 0

E — O.Cox 4. LOB — BR 8, Shakamak 6. SB — E.Graber, Jd.Johnson. CS — E.Graber. SH — T.Graber, Fiscus, Knepp.

Barr-Reeve IP H R ER BB SO

Wagler (W) 7 5 0 0 0 6

Shakamak IP H R ER BB SO

J.Cox (L) 7 4 1 0 0 4

HBP — by J.Cox (E.Graber), by Wagler (Husband), by J.Cox (E.Graber). PB — K.Graber. T — 1:47.

Next — Barr-Reeve (26-6) went on to the semistate championship game against Indianapolis Lutheran, which beat South Central (Elizabeth) 6-2 in Saturday's first game. Shakamak finished 21-8.