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Two Jefferson youth leagues grab state titles

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Jul 30, 2021

SHEPHERDSTOWN — With the Area championship under its tournament belt, the Jefferson Little League 10-12 year-olds qualified for the West Virginia state tournament in Lewisburg. Jefferson had stopped Hedgesville, 10-0, in four innings when Liam Sager fashioned a two-hitter with eight strikeouts. Serf Guerra went 3-for-3 with four RBIs in the win, Two of Guerra’s hits were home runs. Johnny McCarthy was 2-for-2 and Hunter Heffner drove in three runs.

In the Area championship game against Martinsburg, Heffner pitched five innings of no-hit baseball with six strikeouts and Guerra finished off the six-inning no-hitter with a scoreless frame as Jefferson grabbed a 4-0 decision that sent it off to the state tournament in Lewisburg. Guerra and Sager each hit homers in the shutout win.

Jefferson literally overwhelmed the competition at the 10-12 state tournament.

In its opener, Jefferson posted an 11-0 shutout win over Shinnston.

Next came a 13-3 victory over Barboursville. where both Guerra and Finn Dudley had home runs. Jefferson left Barboursville trying to stay close when it rallied for eight runs in the second inning.

In its third game at the state tournament, Jefferson stopped Logan, 10-0, and remained the lone unbeaten team left in the event.

The state championship came with a four-inning, 10-0, win over Logan on July 21,

With its state title under its arm, Jefferson will next play in the Southeastern Region to be staged as always in Warner Robins, Georgia.

There will be state champions from eight states in Warner Robins. Jefferson’s first game will be against the Tar Heel Little League team from Greenville. Tar Heel proved it could win close games when it posted an 11-1 win over Henderson County, 1-0 shutout over Wilson City, 11-10 slugfest success over Lake Norman in eight innings and finally a 3-2 nail-biter over Winston-Salem National.

The other state champions represented are Northwood (South Carolina), Columbus Northern (Georgia), Sylacauga (Alabama), Martin County North (Florida), Nolensville (Tennessee) and a champion from Virginia (which was still playing at mid-week).

The Southeast Region begins play on Aug. 6 with West Virginia (Jefferson) facing North Carolina at 10 a.m. The Region winner will be decided on Aug. 11.

Jefferson’s roster has Serf Guerra, Liam Sager, Mason Lowery, Andrew Rolfe, Teagan Moulton, Hunter Heffner, Harry Garrett, Johnny McCarthy, Aiden Horowicz, Xavier Schroeck, Ben Popek, Finn Dudley and Cam Weiand.

A group of Jefferson All-Stars representing 9-11 year-olds also won the West Virginia state championship, but can advance no farther because there will be no Region play in that age bracket.

The 9-11 team first waded through District 6 play, where only the champion could qualify for the state tournament in Huntington.

Going through the tournament undefeated, Jefferson topped Ona-Milton, 10-5, in the championship game.

Brady Matthias pitched four innings in the title game. Owen Utterback had three hits and three RBIs. August Thompson drove in two runs.

After retiring Ona-Milton in the first when it recorded a double play, Jefferson struck for a pair of first-inning runs, one scoring on Utterback’s sacrifice fly.

Jefferson then plated two more runs in the third and two more in the fourth. Utterback had an RBI double and Brylin Carney drove in a run.

Ona-Milton rallied for three runs in its half of the third, but Thompson came in to pitch and cut short the rally. Thompson pitched two scoreless innings and record three strikeouts.

In a previous 16-7 win over Ona-Milton, Andy Roberts went 3-for-5 and August Torre reached base on all five of his plate appearances. Torre, in relief, was the winning pitcher.

Jefferson defeated Hurricane, 4-2, with Roberts getting credit for the pitching win. Roberts drove in Torre with one run and Jacob Hutchinson had a RBI single.

Cam Burdick, Shawn Dillow, Damien Vogel and company reached as far as they could with no Regional or World Series to play for.