Early lead, rare defensive play boost Jefferson
Brody Price’s four RBIs in the first two innings and a force out at home plate on a throw from outfielder Chase Crockett were two of the main reasons Jefferson was able to beat Washington, 8-3, in a key game in the double-elimination Class AAA, Region 2, Section 2 baseball tournament being staged from May 14 through May 19.
Price’s two-run triple in the second inning gave Jefferson starting pitcher Bradley Davis some breathing room . . . and then when Price delivered a two-run double in the third, Davis could almost completely rely on his defense with the more substantial 7-0 lead.
When Washington did rally from its long deficit in the fifth, it was a rarely seen defensive play that all but cancelled the Patriot comeback attempt.
With three runs across and Davis gone to replacement Andrew King, the Patriots had the bases loaded and one out.
Hunter Weaver lifted a fly to shallow right that Crockett could only corral on one hop. Crockett had the presence of mind to throw in the air to catcher Joe Mills. Mills kept his foot on the plate as he accepted Crockett’s on-line throw just in front of the sliding Jefrey Silvestre. A force out going 9-2 on the score sheet had been recorded . . . and when reliever Austin Cross retired Robert Cross on a grounder to shortstop Paul Witt, Jefferson still had a 7-3 lead.
Cross was able to blank the Patriots in the last two innings . . . and Jefferson was still unbeaten in the tournament while Washington had to beat the Cougars on both Monday and Tuesday to win the Sectional title.
Jefferson solved Washington starter Connor Nurse for eight hits and six runs in the first three innings.
Price had delivered the first two runs and coasted home himself on Witt’s RBI single in the second.
Nurse walked Charlie Barnholt and Austin Bulman to begin the third, and then gave way to Trevor Pansch. Crockett’s single loaded the bases, and Michael Tennant came through with a sharp RBI single to left. Price stroked a line drive near the foul line in right that plated Bulman and Crockett and moved the Jefferson lead to 6-0.
Pansch got out of the inning by leaving the bases loaded.
Washington’s lone inning with any runs came when Texas Cobb doubled, two Jefferson outfielders collided causing a dropped fly hit by Zac Burch, Silvestre lived on an infield error, Corey Lewis produced an infield hit, and Pansch and Ryan French drew walks. That rumble was quickly ended on Crockett’s force out throw to Mills and then Cross’s ground out to end the threat.
Seven Cougars had at least one hit and there were five walks and two infield errors by the Patriots to help fuel the four innings where the Cougars scored. A suicide squeeze executed by Mills scored Jefferson’s eighth run.
The early 6-0 lead and then the Crockett-to-Mills fielder’s choice, force out had extended Jefferson’s overall record to 32-2, and put Washington (then 19-10 overall) in a corner where its fangs, pitching and clutch hitting became necessities if it were to advance to the Regional.