SHENANDOAH JUNCTION— The power of the three-run home run to completely change baseball games wasn’t lost on Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver (of the long-gone Baltimore Orioles). His World Champion teams rode to titles on the twin backs of home runs and exceptional starting pitching.
Just last week, Jefferson came into a make-up game against Berkeley Springs and was to face what was widely reported to be the Indians’ most effective pitcher, Tyler Holt.
Holt lasted 3.2 innings. And was replaced after allowing eight runs (seven earned) and a pair of game-changing three-run home runs.
Jefferson once had an eight-run lead . . . and had used its early-game, offensive muscle to eventually get its seventh straight win, a 9-6 decision over the visiting Indians. The Cougars, who went on to Cooperstown, (NY) for games last weekend, were on the brink of the school’s 36th straight 20-win season because the success against Holt and company moved this year’s record to 19-6.
The right-handed Holt had retired the first two Cougars he saw in the first inning. But then he walked Fraser Brown and was behind 2-0 after Dennis Jackson and Andrew King had consecutive singles and Jackson scored on a passed ball.
Cougar starting pitcher Sean Spotts wriggled free from baserunner trouble in both the first and second. He didn’t walk anybody. And that contribution alone was enough to keep the lead at two runs.
Brown hammered one of the three-run homers after Anthony DiAmario and Corey Mangold had solved Holt for hits. It was 5-0.
In the next inning, Holt gave up Spotts’ opposite-field single, hit DiAmario with a 3-2 pitch . . . and then saw Mangold’s 400-foot homer to centerfield put him in an 8-0 hole. Holt didn’t have to figure a way out of the deep hole. He was lifted.
Even though the Indians would get late-game home runs from both Jared Spielman and Kaleb Athey, Jefferson’s six runs provided by the three-run round trippers from Brown and Mangold were far more important to the game’s outcome.
Mangold continued his late-season batting surge with another three-hit game and the nine total bases he had.
Berkeley Springs, the state’s ninth-ranked Class AA team, went to 12-11 overall.
Jefferson took its caravan of cars and SUVs northward to the cradle of baseball and the site of Major League baseball’s Hall of Fame. The Cougars were scheduled to play perennial state tournament participant Fairmont Senior at historic Doubleday Field on the weekend. It was Fairmont Senior the Cougars of 2011 defeated in the Class AAA state championship game last year.