SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — Typical of the first game in what will be a long series of games between Washington and Jefferson was the first inning where the Patriots scored three runs and they all were unearned.
Physical errors became the theme of the game, which Jefferson won, 7-6, with its three earned runs. Mental mistakes came in for a supporting role with walks, hit batters and stranded baserunners taking the limelight at various times.
The teams will play each other at least five times this season. And a sixth game could be needed to decide the Sectional championship between the two county rivals.
Jefferson committed five errors. And won. Washington committed four errors and couldn’t win even though all six of its runs were unearned.
In addition to the four runners it had because of infield errors by the Patriots, the Cougars also received four walks and had a batter hit by a pitch. Washington managed only four hits off Jefferson pitchers A.J. Boyd, Logan Maloney and Blake Johnson . . . but the Patriots were the beneficiaries of six walks and had two batters hit by pitches. And the Cougars committed five errors in often keeping Washington rallies alive.
Without a hit in its half of the first, the Patriots had a 3-0 lead. Jefferson had five runners in the second and scored twice as Matt LaFollette had an RBI hit. Soon enough, two additional Jefferson errors had helped the Patriots score another two runs.
Trailing, 5-2, the Cougars were aided by two Patriot errors in scoring their next run.
Maloney came on in the fifth and inherited two runners. There were no outs. After Dorian Hetzel lined into a double play, Maloney freed himself and the Cougars by getting an inning-ending strikeout.
A two-RBI hit from Casey Billmyer highlighted a two-run fifth for Jefferson. Paul Witt and Andrew King scored after getting singles.
Jefferson took its first lead in the sixth when Witt and Dennis Jackson had doubles to move the Cougars in front at 7-5.
The Cougars’ third pitcher, Blake Johnson, had entered in the sixth and fanned the third out in the inning. In the seventh, Johnson saw Drew Hetzel single and reach base for the fourth straight time. And then he issued a walk.
After a successful sacrifice bunt, Dorian Hetzel produced a sacrifice fly. With the tying run perched on third, Johnson retired Bryan Bayliss on a game-ending grounder to Billmyer at first.
With the series of games between the two teams stretching through the rest of the season, Jefferson had improved to 13-5 and Washington was 6-7. And both will seek an improved defense when they keep meeting until the season ends for one of them.