Base running blunders trumped by Witt, Cross
Five times Jefferson lost base runners to blunders or getting caught trying to steal.
Those mistakes, costly and rally-killing as they were, somehow didn’t effect the game-long hitting of Paul Witt and pitching of Austin Cross as the Cougars slogged past their county rival Washington, 7-5, in a game surprisingly devoid of intensity and any sense of urgency.
Witt had lifted his already imposing batting average to .588 after going 3-for-3 with two late-game RBIs that gave Jefferson the lead back after Washington had overtaken a 3-0 deficit to go in front by a run.
Two of Witt’s hits were doubles and he was on base four times. His stinging line drive single in the sixth brought the Cougars ahead, 6-5, and enabled Cross, who came on in relief of starter Bradley Davis with no outs in the fourth, to get credit for the pitching win.
Cross struck out five of the 12 outs he registered and allowed just three singles.
There were Jefferson base runners galore against the four Washington pitchers.
The Cougars actually had 21 base runners, but eventually stranded nine of those who avoided being thrown out stealing or running to a base already occupied by a teammate.
Twelve of those base runners reached on either a walk, being hit by a pitch or by an infield error committed by a Patriot.
Washington had 15 base runners and continually pressured the Cougars with bunts and the four walks it received.
Witt doubled in the first… and scored. He doubled again in the third . . . and scored. After walking in the fifth, he scored again as Austin Bulman (who had one hit) get his third RBI. In the decisive sixth, Witt batted with the Cougars trailing, 5-4. He delivered a two-RBI single that gave Cross a 6-5 lead he protected in the last two innings.
Jefferson had a golden opportunity to distance itself in the seventh from the nagging pursuit of the Patriots.
The first four batters in that inning reached safely on an error, hit batter, bunt single and another hit batter. However, one runner was erased when he sprinted to third . . . and the base was already occupied by a Cougar standing on it.
After Mason Steeley grounded into a force play at the plate, Alex Tennant grounded back to the pitcher to end the threat with Witt in the on-deck circle. The only run of the once ripe-for-scoring frame scored on a passed ball.
Base runners had been squandered. A three-run lead had disappeared.
But Witt and Cross had been the hitter and pitcher of the afternoon to get the Cougars a 16th win against two losses.