INWOOD - Denver Luttrell had something to prove when he stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of a tie ballgame with Jefferson.
Luttrell had been taken out of the lineup after striking out in his second at-bat, his replacement delivering with a single.
Then, with a runner at second, the batter in front of him was intentionally walked, leaving him feeling a bit slighted as he took his stance in the batter's box.
Luttrell made the Cougars pay as he delivered a sharp single that plated the go-ahead run in the Applemen's 5-4 win over defending champion Jefferson.
"When they walked the guy in front of me, I took it as an insult," Luttrell said. "I've been struggling at the plate, so it was nice to finally get my swing down."
Luttrell's key hit came right after Darrin Zombro was thrown out at home when he tried to score from second on Evan Woolum's single. Jefferson walked Jacob Whitmore, then Luttrell belted a pitch from Cougars' reliever Logan Maloney into left field, scoring Woolum and putting the Applemen back up 5-4 in the bottom of sixth.
"There's no quit in them. This team's never going to give up," Musselman coach Jeff Sibole said. "Denver's been struggling, but he came up with a big-time hit."
Musselman is used to winning close games this season, its last three wins coming by a combined four runs.
The Applemen trailed by a run after four innings, mainly because of the seven runners they left stranded in scoring position.
"At times we put the ball in play pretty well, but we also left a lot of runners in scoring position," Sibole said.
Jefferson, on the other hand, took better advantage of its runners early on. Two of the Cougars' first three runners reached in the third inning, and both scored. Pinch-runner Garrett Everton scored on a single by Corey Mangold, and Mangold eventually scored on a double by Fraser Brown, giving Jefferson a 3-2 lead in the third inning.
"I thought we swung the bats better than we have in our previous games," Jefferson coach John Lowery said.
That was the final lead for Jefferson, which fell behind 4-3 in the fifth inning, then tied the game at four in the top of the sixth inning when Brown tripled, then scored on flyout to center off the bat of Mike King.
"I thought we played well today, but we didn't make enough plays to win," Lowery said. "We only had one fielding error, and we hit the ball well, so we did some good things.
"I thought our guys did a nice job pitching. We'd like to have a few pitches back, but I thought we pitched well."
One of those pitches was to Luttrell, and the other was to Chance Allen, who had a two-run single in the fifth inning to give Musselman the lead at the time. Both were key hits that helped keep the Applemen with a perfect record.
"We want to keep that perfect record. We didn't give up and were able to get the win today," Luttrell said.
-Eric Jones can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org