Game of inches or Murphy’s Law? Ask Cougars
SHEPHERDSTOWN — It wasn’t karma. And it wasn’t the old saying, “what goes around, comes around.” One of the old Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s might have said, “it’s a game of inches” or “wait ’til next year.”
Jefferson High School just couldn’t avoid the head-shaking mistakes it committed or had showered on it in a two-run loss to Bridgeport in the semifinals of the big-school state baseball tournament at Allegany Power Park in Charleston last Saturday.
Bridgeport won, 7-5, with a five-run inning doing the Cougar-killing for it.
Both teams made mistakes. A replay camera showed the umpires probably made a mistake. But wipe away all the dust and chase away all the baseball “what-if’s” and Bridgeport had two more runs.
The Cougars rallied from five runs down. But it was the fifth inning when they did. Bridgeport only struck out five times as a team, and some of the balls they put in play were dropped or thrown into the stands.
And the Indians stole six bases in inching closer to scoring position when they ran. A wild pitch brought home one Indian runner. Jefferson had eight strikeouts, including the last two outs of the already productive fifth when it had two runners on base after already plating three runs. The two strikeouts prevented the Cougars from climbing closer than 5-3 and Bridgeport kept its advantage.
It seemed Jefferson’s first three of four pitchers were constantly working from the stretch position.
But even with Bridgeport claiming a 5-0 lead going to the last of the fifth, the game had not been decided.
In the productive fifth, Griffin Horowicz doubled and Kamien Gonzalez — who went 3-for-3 and finished his senior season with six hits in his last six official at-bats — singled to send the inning in the right direction. Peyton Corwine grounded to short and the roller was misplayed, allowing Horowicz to score with Corwine getting credit for an RBI. Cullen Horowicz singled in a run and William Regan Allinger sent a sacrifice fly to center. Two strike outs followed to extinguish the rally.
The Indians plated two more runs in the sixth, but that only preceded a two-run Jefferson inning where Sam Wabnitz reached safely on an error, Griffin Horowicz walked and Gonzalez’s single loaded the bases. Connor Bailey grounded out to score a run. Cullen Horowicz was intentionally walked to load the bases. Allinger drove in a run with his single to center. Jefferson still trailed, 7-5, and couldn’t count any more runs when Zac Rose flew out to end the smallish uprising. Chris Harbert (five innings) and Austin Mann (two innings) were Bridgeport’s two pitchers. Bridgeport could not score in its half of the seventh, but Jefferson was retired in order to effectively squash its comeback efforts. Jefferson left eight base runners stranded and the Indians left seven on base.
The Cougars completed the often disjointed (by the coronavirus) season with a 27-4 record, while the Indians went to the state championship game where they stopped Hurricane and its 31-game winning streak to win a seventh consecutive state title — the first six of that string coming in the Class AA ranks.
Not everything went wrong for Jefferson, but when playing a team that applied constant pressure with its runners, mistakes were magnified and nearly every offensive situation Jefferson managed, ached for a clutch hit . . . that sometimes didn’t come.