Jefferson takes home championship … again
Jefferson closed out a brilliant 37-2 season with wins over Greenbrier East and Nitro in the Charleston-based state baseball tournament . . . wins that brought the school its 11th state championship.
The Cougars edged Greenbrier East, 6-4, in the Class AAA semifinals, overcoming a mid-game 4-1 deficit to reach the state championship game on Saturday morning against Nitro. Nitro beat Wheeling Park, 2-1, in the other semifinal game.
In defeating the Spartans, the Cougars scored five times in their final three turns to erase the Greenbrier East lead that had been achieved with a three-run fourth inning that brought on left-hander Austin Cross to replace starting pitcher Andy Disque.
Cross pitched the last 3.1 innings in shutout fashion, allowing the Cougars to erase all of the Spartans’ earlier lead. He allowed only one hit while fanning five and walking two in his string of scoreless innings.
Jefferson stole six bases in the semifinal win with Paul Witt getting three of the steals — one a theft of home on the back end of a double steal.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars scored twice when Brody Price was hit by a pitch and quickly stole second. Price reached third on a passed ball before Witt singled him home with the go-ahead run. Witt then stole second and moved to third on a balk. Charlie Barnholt drew a walk and immediately attempted to steal second. Witt was credited with a steal of home on Barnholt’s successful steal of second.
Earlier, Cross had a sacrifice fly, Michael Tennant had an RBI single and Barnholt produced an RBI single.
Both Price and Tennant had two hits for the Cougars. Chase Crockett scored two runs.
Two first-inning runs turned out to be all left-hander Bradley Davis needed to turn back Nitro, 2-1, in the championship game.
Davis had a complete-game four-hitter and did not allow a walk or hit any batters. He had six strikeouts and threw 91 pitches.
Jefferson’s only runs came in the bottom of the first inning when Wil Oliver led off and was safe on the Nitro first baseman’s error, Witt singled Oliver to second and Andrew King was safe on the pitcher’s error — a play where Oliver scored from second and Witt went to third.
Austin Bulman grounded into a fielder’s choice where Witt scored to give the Cougars an early 2-0 lead.
Nitro scored its only run in the sixth, and then had a leadoff single to begin its seventh inning. After a stolen base had the tying run in scoring position with nobody out, Davis retired the next three batters on a fly to Oliver in center field, a pop out in foul territory caught by Witt and a final strikeout that ended the threat . . . and the game in Jefferson’s favor.
The Cougars won their seven post-season tournament games to finish with a 37-2 overall record.
Jefferson’s last state championship came in 2011 and no Cougar team had been to the state tournament since that season until this year.