Defensive letdown, only one run lose first Regional game
SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – After five innings, there were no runs by either team. Only 55 minutes had elapsed and Jefferson and Hedgesville were locked in a 0-0 pitcher’s duel.
And then it was over.
The top of the sixth inning became a surreal scene as Hedgesville was able to count three runs and Jefferson was able to look aghast as four errors dragged it down to the dust of defeat by a 3-1 count.
In the dizzying happenings in that tide-turning sixth, the Eagles managed only their second hit of the afternoon off Jefferson pitcher Taylor Tennant. And then the baseball acted as if it had a mind of its own – bouncing off gloves, skidding between legs, being thrown off-line more often than not.
Hedgesville’s Parker Martin led the Eagle sixth with a single. With J.R. Luttrell trying to get down a sacrifice bunt, Tennant threw badly on a pickoff attempt and Martin coasted into second. Still attempting to bunt, Luttrell did even better. He walked.
After Tennant got his fourth strikeout, Chase Delauter sent a ground single to right. Martin attempted to score the game’s first run. Cory Daly’s in-time throw home glanced off the top of the catcher’s glove and Martin’s run had the Eagles ahead, 1-0.
Tyler Bubb singled to right and Daly threw home again. His throw went under the catcher, where it was fielded by Tennant, who threw back to the plate only to see his throw dropped. Delauter also scored. Another infield throwing error further clouded the Jefferson fortunes. But at least no more runs scored.
The Eagles had no earned runs . . . but a 3-0 lead.
Three runs for Hedgesville pitcher Chase Delauter seemed like it was almost overkill on the pleasant baseball day. But Daly drilled a solo homer to left, and Jefferson had a run.
Tennant sailed through the seventh and completed his four-hitter with five strikeouts and his lone walk of the game to Luttrell.
In Jefferson’s seventh, Delauter got Stevie Lee on a bouncer to first and then struck out Cullen Horowicz. But the third strike to Horowicz eluded catcher Brady Weaver and the Cougars still had some life with a runner at first base.
Zac Rose singled. And despite its game-long troubles against Delauter, the Cougars had the tying run at first and only one out.
Regan Allinger sent his grounder to the right of the shortstop, who ranged far enough to make a sure-handed pickup and throw to third in time to get a force play on Horowicz.
Jefferson had just one out remaining. But it also had the tying runs on base.
Delauter quickly ended what forlorn drama was left. He fanned Jefferson’s final pinch-hitter and salted the game away.
The two teams were to meet again on Tuesday in Hedgesville. If Jefferson won, there would be a third and deciding game back at Jefferson.
Five innings of total pitcher domination had changed abruptly . . . with fielding lapses moving to the definitive role for six batters.
And then Delauter, who walked only one, was in charge again after Daly’s home run had him lose his shutout.