Jillson jolts Panthers

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WALES – After a tough start to the season, the Oak Hill Raiders are rounding into form, and beginning to look awfully familiar.

Josh Jillson struck out 10 in five innings of work and drove in three runs as Oak Hill knocked off Medomak Valley, 7-4, Monday on the newly rededicated T.W. “Bill” Fairchild Field.

Numerous players from Fairchild’s coaching career going as far back as 1977 turned out to honor their former coach, and what they saw following the rededication ceremony must have felt like deja vu. Jillson, a southpaw, spun a strong performance on the mound (three hits, 0 earned runs, three walks) reminiscent of so many Raider lefties of the past, while the bats sprayed a dozen hits around the field in classic Oak Hill fashion.

The Raiders improved to 10-5 and can clinch a spot in the KVAC championship game with a win at MCI Wednesday. Medomak dropped to 8-7.

“We’ve been swinging the bats well for about seven games now,” said Oak Hill coach Chad Drouin. “We’re getting timely hits. We’ve been playing pretty good defense for the most part. Today was a little shaky. Hopefully that was just some jitters because of what was going on here today. But we’ve been getting some timely hits, we’re playing some good defense and our pitching’s really coming out.”

Four Oak Hill errors led to all four Medomak runs. But the Raiders jumped on Panther starter Jared Simmons early. Jillson clubbed a two-run triple, and Brian Bisson followed with a single to chase him home for a 3-0 lead in the first. They tacked on two more in the second when Mike Eaton doubled to score Wally Rines from first, then scored on Bisson’s single to right.

“We were just relaxing at the plate and getting the job done,” said Bisson, who led the offense by going 3-for-3 with a walk, one RBI and a run scored. “Lately, we’ve been rushing a little bit, but this game we did well. We waited for our pitch and ripped it.”

Jillson struck out the side on 13 pitches to start the game, then struggled a bit with his control in the second when the Panthers scored their first two runs on a single by Dale Winchenbach and a wild pitch. Working around a hit and an error, he fanned the side again in the fourth, then finished strong with back-to-back Ks in the fifth.

“It was such a hot day. I struggled a little bit with energy toward the middle,” Jillson said. “Then I just got a burst of energy toward the end.”

“He’s been excellent all year,” Drouin said of Jillson, who is now 5-0. “I know that he was really fired up to pitch this game. It was one that he asked for last week. His spot in the rotation was Friday, but we pushed him back to today just because he had had two starts the week before.”

Drouin lifted Jillson after the Raiders plated two more insurance funs in the fifth. Bisson tripled, then scored on a nicely-placed squeeze bunt by Robie Leavitt. Eric Daniels followed with an RBI single, scoring Devan Eaton to make it 7-2.

Mike Eaton and Bisson each pitched an inning of relief to close it out. Eaton, Jillson and Daniels all collected two hits apiece.

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