Carroll, Cross blank Spartans; Cougars still lose
The long ride for Jefferson’s baseball team to Myrtle Beach for this week’s Spring Break tournament had a little more soul-searching than usual.
The Cougars dropped a 4-3 decision to visiting Greenbrier East last Saturday, just in front of their trek to South Carolina for the annual, week-long tournament played at various locations in and around Myrtle Beach.
Greenbrier East, a 9-5 loser to Martinsburg the previous night, cobbled together a pair of Taylor Tennant walks, an infield throwing error and a two-out, three-run triple just out of the grasp of diving center fielder Danny Brennan to march out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
With the bases loaded in its turn in the first, the Cougars couldn’t score when Brennan popped out to shortstop with two outs.
When Tennant was reached for Joey Powell’s lead-off hit in the second, he was removed with Dylan Carroll, who had four days rest after pitching a shutout against Woodgrove on Monday, replacing him.
Greenbrier starting pitcher Tanner McCallister doubled home Powell . . . and the Spartans had a four-run lead.
Carroll retired the next two men he faced in the second, and then struck out four in the next two innings before leaving in favor of Austin Cross.
Carroll saw 11 batters, fanned five of them, allowed no runs and spaced the two hits he permitted.
Another frustrating inning was the Jefferson fate in the second. With two outs and the bases loaded, Dalton Jamison was out on a routine fly to left. Jefferson had stranded six runners in its first two turns.
The Cougars would finish the one-run loss with 12 runners left on base – at least one in every turn.
Cross baffled the Spartans, the same as Carroll had. In his three innings, he faced the minimum of nine batters, allowing one hit and quickly picking off that runner. Cross fanned two and needed only 28 pitches to get his nine outs.
After leaving eight runners aboard in four innings, Jefferson staged a three-run uprising in the fifth.
McCallister hit his third and fourth batters, walked Brennan and surrendered a double to Cross and Cole Walker’s infield hit.
Bailey Dodson’s force-out grounder scored one run and pinch hitter Mason Steeley’s two-out hit also plated a run.
It was a 4-3 game when Alex Tennant was retired on a fly out to right with runners perched on second and third.
Cross made short work of the Spartans in the sixth and seventh, but Greenbrier East reliever Daylon Colley slipped past a Cross two-out single in the sixth and a one-out walk to Bailey Dodson and stolen base by courtesy runner Cory Daly in the seventh to leave the 12th Jefferson runner stranded.
The Cougars took a 15-2 record to the beach where their competition will probably be the strongest and most capable of the season.
None of Greenbrier East’s runs had been earned. Jefferson batted .222 with runners in scoring position. And Carroll and Cross had limited the Spartans to a .153 batting average against them.
There was plenty to think about on the long trip to Myrtle Beach.