SHENANDOAH JUNCTION— After it had gone through four totally inexperienced pitchers and seen Wyoming Area glut the bases with 11 baserunners, Jefferson Coach John Lowery called in starting second baseman Fraser Brown to pitch.
It was just the beginning of the sixth inning.
When he replaced the struggling A. J. Boyd, Brown inherited a 2-0 count on the first batter in the inning. Jefferson had just rallied for five runs in its half of the fifth . . . assuming a two-run lead after it had come to bat trailing by three runs.
The Cougars, who had already struck out eight times in four innings, rallied for five runs on four hits (three of them triples), a walk, an error, two stolen bases, and a wild pitch.
Brown wasn’t able to retire the man he inherited, who singled. But then with a fistful of strikes, he faced only six more batters in those final two innings in getting credit for a save as Jefferson made off with an 8-5 victory in its first of two games played on sun-saturated Saturday.
Brown had gone two innings, allowing only a single to the batter he inherited. He used an age-old, oft-proven baseball adage that advises all pitchers “to get ahead in the count” by throwing a stream of strikes and letting the batters get themselves out when they fall behind in the count.
Brown’s outs were necessary.
The four pitchers that preceded him had allowed 13 base runners in their five innings of toil. They had walked seven, including one by starter Sean Spotts. Spotts was forced out in the top of the first after three batters. He had been struck in the leg by a hard grounder that continued on into centerfield.
Casey Billmyer faced seven men. Logan Maloney was in for three innings and four hits and a walk before giving way to Boyd, who walked two of the five men he saw and allowed a hit to another. Boyd finished the fifth.
When Boyd went to 2-0 on the first Warrior in the sixth, it was Brown being summoned from second base.
Wyoming Area didn’t score again. It stranded eight runners in seeing a three-run lead evaporate in the Jefferson fifth.
The Cougars had only three hits (but two runs) after striking out eight times in only four innings.
Trailing, 5-2, and with one out in the fifth, Corey Mangold beat out an infield roller that had caromed off the mound. Brown grounded to second and was called out on a throw to first. However, an appeal was made and the plate umpire ruled the Warrior first baseman had his foot off the base. Mangold was at second and Brown was at first. There was only one out.
Mangold and Brown each stole a base. Dennis Jackson had an RBI groundout.
Consecutive triples came from Matt Ballou, Michael King, and Brandt Petrie. And Jefferson had the last of the inning’s five runs. And more importantly, a 7-5 lead lead Brown could protect after replacing Boyd.
The Cougars sent another seven men to the plate in the next inning, scoring once after three walks and leaving the bases loaded.
Coach John Lowery had tried five pitchers. Only Boyd had even an inning of previous varsity pitching. And it was Brown who plugged the constant holes in the dike.