After loss, Cougars need to find more offense
The pitchers were literally in control of the Jefferson vs. Musselman baseball game, won, 2-1, by the Applemen in eight innings, that neither side found many baserunners. And could unearth even fewer runs.
So much so that Musselman’s Tyler Gross went six innings without issuing a walk or hitting a batter. Without help from walks, Jefferson was only able to manage one run. The Cougars had freshman left-hander Austin Cross on hand to hold the Applemen scoreless through his relief innings.
However, Cross didn’t come on the scene until the second. Musselman had already scored a run with three walks and a hit batsman before Cross quelled the rally by inducing a bases-loaded groundout from Jarin Jenkins.
In his 5.1 innings of work, Cross walked only two and hit a man. Musselman managed three singles off his strikes.
Jefferson scored its only run against Gross in the third when it produced three of the five hits it had. Paul Witt’s RBI double plated Brody Price, who had singled. The Cougars had runners at first and third in the inning, but Miguel Acosta, who made the last out of an inning in all four of his at-bats, harmlessly flew out.
As the game hurried along, the pitchers would not give in. And neither side had enough hitters to solve them for anything productive.
The score remained at 1-1 from the third through the seventh.
The Cougars had kept even only because left fielder Price had thrown out a runner at the plate on a single by Forrest Stafford.
Gross, who was pitching for the third straight day (but had only a total two innings) when the game was resumed a night after it was suspended by lightning, ran out of rule-allowed innings after the sixth. He left after allowing just five hits while fanning five.
Stafford replaced Gross to begin the Jefferson seventh. He went to 3-0 against the first man he saw, Austin Bulman, but then struck out the freshman. With two outs in the seventh, Stafford walked both Chase Crockett and Will Oliver, but got Price to ground into a force out to send the game to extra innings.
Cross and the Cougars were troubled when Gross bunted in front of the plate and ran it into a hit.
Charles Barnholt replaced Cross. He fanned George Delinski.
Devon Berry, who hadn’t gotten the ball out of the infield in his three previous turns, poked a high fastball on the outside corner into right field for a hit. Berry’s hit eluded the Jefferson right fielder and when all the scrambling had finished the Applemen had runners on second and third.
Oliver made a fine running catch in center field on Chance Allen’s bid for a hit, but Gross was able to score from third on the sacrifice fly. It was 2-1 Musselman with the game’s first run since the third inning.
In the Jefferson eighth, Stafford hit Garrett Everton with a pitch, but the ball-and-strike umpire ruled Everton had not done enough to avoid being plunked and kept him at the plate. Everton eventually drove a high shot to the wall in left where Allen made a nifty backpedaling catch.
Witt was hit by a pitch. But Andrew King grounded to second and Witt was forced. Shortstop Jenkins’ return throw to first that could have ended the game sailed high and went out of play.
The Cougars had the tying run at second. But there were two outs and Acosta batting. Soon there were three outs — and Musselman had a win — when Acosta grounded harmlessly to Jenkins at shortstop.
The teams had combined for only nine hits, and could barely score at all.
Pitchers Gross and Cross had combined to walk only two of the 42 batters they saw.
Without the benefit of walks, neither side could muster much offense at all.
Musselman had staved off elimination and Jefferson could not afford another misstep or it would be gone from the postseason with two Class AAA Sectional losses.