Crowded bases give Cougars enough runs
Blending several all-round individual performances with a game-long series of base runners, Jefferson stopped previously unbeaten Washington, 9-3, to win its ninth straight game of the baseball season.
The Cougars had 20 baserunners against Jared Silva and reliever Ryan French, and their four two-out RBI hits were enough to take an early 3-0 lead that they never wasted.
From the time leadoff hitter Garrett Everton reached safely to open the game, the Cougars were never retired in order in any turn. Jefferson received nine walks and had a batter hit by a pitch. All those runners were abetted by the infield errors the Patriots committed and the useful movement the Cougars mostly showed in moving around the bases.
Everton reached base four times and the catcher once backed up first base to turn an errant throw into an out. Paul Witt had two RBIs and two hits and turned an unassisted double play while recording five assists and two putouts.
Freshman right-hander Austin Bulman faced only nine men while accepting Jefferson’s 3-0 lead through three innings.
When Bulman became less of a mystery to the Patriots, his teammates kept adding runs in maintaining at least a one-run lead.
The constant wind and menacing sun continually played at least supporting roles in the outcome. Players lost not only flyballs in the sun, but also high-hopping ground balls that came back toward pitchers.
And baseball proved again it is a game of inches.
Witt’s second-inning double was missed on a dive in Washington’s outfield and helped the Cougars to a 3-0 lead.
Miguel Acosta’s two-run double in the fifth was also within inches of being caught and it moved Jefferson’s shrinking lead back to 5-2.
Several dribblers off Cougar bats barely eluded Patriot infielders, keeping innings alive and leading to an additional five Jefferson runs.
Crucial baserunning gaffes crimped Washington’s comeback chances, once when a runner on second forgot how many outs there were and was doubled up on a foul pop fly to the Jefferson first baseman.
When Bulman tired in the fifth he had a 6-2 lead. When the Cougars scored another three runs in their final two turns, they had a 6-run win and a 9-1 overall record that includes a 2-0 record in Sectional games versus Musselman and the Patriots (now 6-1 overall).
Even though it stranded at least one runner in every inning, the Cougars constantly took advantage of the extra outs they were provided by the Washington defense.
Bulman went 4.1 innings for the win. He yielded no walks — his most important pitching statistic. Desmond Grimes got three outs. William Viands and Charles Barnholt finished up for the Cougars.
Silva left in the middle of a three-run Jefferson fifth. He fanned seven, allowed five hits, five walks, hit a man and yielded five earned runs.
Everton was Jefferson’s only senior in its starting lineup. But the Cougars played with a conservative confidence that had been aided by an eight-game winning streak that was at nine when the wind-dominated game was completed.