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Cougars never stop running in mercy rule win

By Staff | May 4, 2017

Five stolen bases were the hallmark of Jefferson’s lop-sided, 11-0, win over Washington. Only three runners were left stranded of the 15 men that got aboard as the Cougars never seemed to stop taking extra bases once they arrived at first.

Five Washington High errors garnished the disheveled look the game had to it.

Jefferson continually took full advantage of every ugly inch the Washington defense gave it

The Cougars didn’t knock the stuffings out of the baseball . . . but they got on base any way they could and then freewheeled around the sacks to force bad throws and late throws throughout the six-inning, mercy rule-shortened game.

Two hit batsmen, a passed ball and a wild pitch when the Cougars were at bat only highlighted the shabby appearance the game had at times.

With left-hander Austin Cross pitching on two days rest, Jefferson used his guile more than frisky fastball to keep the Patriots away from the scoreboard.

As is his modus operandi, Cross refused to walk or hit batters. And he needed his walk-free personality because Washington repeatedly had runners on base against him.

The Patriots stranded two runners in the second, left the bases loaded in the third when Cross fanned lefty-swinging Trey Virts on a 3-2 pitch to escape unscathed, left another two men aboard in the fourth . . . and finally couldn’t count either of the runners they had in the sixth inning.

Washington left 10 runners on base in a six-inning game. Jefferson left only three.

Cross was able to fan seven, getting at least one strikeout in every inning. He went 5.2 innings, allowing six singles and pitching out of trouble every time trouble came to face him.

Jefferson had a 4-0 lead after just two turns, yet Cross still had to get clutch outs to keep the Patriots from ever seriously challenging that lead. Cross’s finest moment came in the third when a passed ball and two-out throwing error meant runners were at second and third. Jack Dubyak, who reached base safely on all three of his at-bats, took two balls from Cross and then was given an intentional walk.

Bases loaded. The lead was 4-0. A hit could halve the Jefferson lead. Cross went to 3-2 on Virts. And then struck him out with a letter-high fastball.

Washington kept getting runners on base. And Cross kept wading out of waist-deep hot water to keep his shutout intact.

Cross had an earlier shutout over the Patriots. In 12.2 innings against Jefferson’s county rival, Cross hasn’t been scored against.

The Cougars were 14-1 overall and Washington was 7-3. A win in either of its remaining games against Hampshire would give the Cougars the No.1-seed in the Sectional tournament.

Base running. Taking advantage of Washington’s mistakes. And Cross’s refusal to cede even one run had the Cougars moving toward this week’s stay in Myrtle Beach with the knowledge that little things mean a lot in baseball.