Cougars ride pitching, enough runs to Sectional title
Good pitching will stop good hitting. Hey . . . good pitching will stop any kind of hitting!
In the three-game silencing of the batters sent forth to face Jefferson’s quality pitching, the opposition scored just one run, had only a total of 11 hits in 21 innings of trying and struck out 23 times.
The Cougars got shutout pitching from senior left-hander Bradley Davis (six innings) and Jordan Beans (one inning) to beat Washington, 3-0 . . . then blanked Musselman, 6-0, behind five innings of whitewash pitching from Austin Cross (one hit, 9 strikeouts and three walks) and two innings from Beans (two strikeouts and no walks).
Needing only one more win to put away their Sectional foes, the Cougars beat Musselman again, this time by a 5-1 count. Dylan Carroll went three innings (no hits, two walks, no strikeouts) before Beans came on in relief for the third straight game. Beans pitched the last four innings, allowing three hits while fanning five and allowing no walks.
The three wins in the Sectional moved Jefferson’s overall record to 30-2 and sent it to the Region II semifinal on Monday, May 23, at 6 p.m. at Sager Field against Spring Mills — the winner over Hedgesville and Martinsburg in its just-completed Sectional tournament.
It was Davis who stopped Washington on six hits in the Sectional opener for the Cougars. The Patriots had lost to Musselman in the first game of the double-elimination tournament.
Jefferson plated two runs against Robert Cross in the first inning and another run in the fourth gave it more room for any Washington murmuring or its own mistakes, neither of which materialized.
Cameron Alvarez, who went 5-for-9 in the three-game Sectional from his leadoff spot in the Cougars’ order, was 2-for-2 and scored a run. Paul Witt, who was 4-for-8 in the three games, drove in a run, scored once and had a triple. Austin Bulman had a hit and and scored once. Charlie Barnholt had a double.
When Cross muzzled the Applemen on only one hit in his five innings of shutout work, the Cougars had a 5-0 lead after only three innings. Musselman’s six errors played a part in some of the Jefferson scoring.
Cross and Beans combined to fan 11 Applemen batters.
Cole Walker was the only Jefferson player with two hits and he also scored a run and had an RBI. Alvarez, Witt and Cross had Jefferson’s other hits with Witt and Bailey Dodson scoring runs.
On Monday, Jefferson jumped to a 4-0 lead after three innings. Musselman’s lone run came in the fourth, and Beans replaced Carroll with nobody out. Beans got 12 outs while yielding only three hits and not allowing a walk. He fanned five.
Alvarez and Witt each had a pair of hits at the top of the batting order. Barnholt drove in two runs and Cross added two singles to the 10-hit Jefferson offense. Witt scored two runs.
The Jefferson vs. Spring Mills Regional semifinal on Monday will have the same teams that faced each other last year when the game was played at Spring Mills.
Jefferson won that duel of pitchers Andy Disque and Wyatt Stuckey, 2-0, and went on to win three more tournament games and the 2015 state championship.
Stuckey is back with the Cardinals, but Cody Hammond could start this time.
Jefferson has 2-1 and 4-2 wins over Spring Mills this season. Stuckey pitched the first game and Hammond the rain-interrupted second game.
The winner of the Jefferson vs. Spring Mills game will play the winner of the other part of the Region that saw Buckhannon as its representative in 2015. Jefferson beat Buckhannon, 15-0, in the Regional final last season.
In this year’s Sectional, hardy strike-throwing pitching completely monopolized the games Jefferson was in . . . and the Cougars reached the 30-win plateau again after going 37-2 in 2015.