SHENANDOAH JUNCTION— After falling behind by three runs to Bucky Timbrook’s runs-producing double, Jefferson finally used three walks issued by Hampshire starter Josh Crawford, a key passed ball, a catcher’s throwing error, and RBI hits from Andrew Grove and Fraser Brown get even with the Trojans.
In the next inning, Matt Ballou, Casey Billmyer, and Sean Spotts all had singles and Michael King was hit by a pitch from reliever Ethan Taylor as the Cougars managed the two runs they needed to edge the Trojans, 6-4, in a sketchy preview of this past Monday’s Sectional opener.
Jefferson made it very difficult on itself. It made two errors in Hampshire’s three-run fifth inning. It had two runners thrown out by 10-feet at third base as they tried to advance on pitches in the dirt. It had one would-be base stealer thrown out at second when Hampshire shrewdly called for a pitchout. It saw Hampshire successfully steal two bases in two attempts.
And the Cougars had one hit through four innings against Crawford.
Jefferson starting pitcher Sean Spotts had walked only one in his first four innings. And he even got some strikes with his curveball. His pickoff of Dillon Pepper had ended one budding threat.
But Jefferson’s lack of offense had the game tied at 1-1 through four.
In the Hampshire fifth, Caleb Landis beat out a three-hop grounder to shortstop Andrew King . . . then Ethan Taylor bunted toward third where Grove dropped the ball. After an out, Timbrook rammed a two-run triple to the fence in left. Timbrook scored when Andrew King held the ball in shallow left. Hampshire had a 4-1 lead.
Jefferson needed some help or an awakened offense.
It got a little of both.
Michael King walked on a 3-2 pitch. Billmyer walked on a 3-2 pitch. A passed ball and a catcher’s throwing error had those runners at second and third with no outs.
Spotts had an RBI groundout. Grove punched a single to shallow right. It was 4-3.
Anthony DiAmario walked on a 3-2 pitch. Grove was easily thrown out at third trying to advance on a Crawford pitch in the dirt. Brown delivered a run-scoring double to left that made it 4-4. Relief pitcher Taylor kept it that way when he retired Andrew King.
After Spotts got Hampshire in order in the sixth, Jefferson scored two runs after leadoff man Dennis Jackson fanned. Ballou singled sharply. Michael King was hit by the first pitch to him. Billmyer broke the tie with a line-drive single. Spotts sent an opposite-field ground single to left to get King home. It was 6-4.
Cody Butts replaced Spotts to begin the Hampshire seventh. He retired the Trojans in order and had a save
The Cougars had six hits off the three Hampshire pitchers. Crawford would be Hampshire’s pitcher in the Sectional opener. The Cougars were 21-7 and still had two regular season games remaining.
The outcome had boiled down to Jefferson receiving a number of walks on 3-2 pitches . . . and it overcoming a murky defensive performance and having three baserunners thrown out to defuse rallies.