SHENANDOAH JUNCTION— Three of Hedgesville’s 10 runs were earned. All nine of Jefferson’s errors were ugly . . . as were the five walks allowed by starting pitcher Cody Butts . . . and the passed ball, wild pitch, and balk that were sprinkled in throughout Jefferson’s 10-4 loss to visiting Hedgesville.
Over the nearly 40 years of its existence, venerable old Sager Field hadn’t seen too many of that kind of fielding woes from the home side. The place had seen Jefferson opponents implode and beat themselves dozens and dozens of times. But not the home side.
After graduating nine players from the 2011 state championship team, Jefferson — after just four games — is still in a formulative process of trying to find the acceptable pieces for a decent high school defense. But when Hedgesville had only five hits and still scored 10 runs in the first four innings, that creative process was still ongoing and far from finished. The Eagles managed another harmless single in their final three turns.
When the Eagles had five runs in the first two innings and none of them were earned, Jefferson was sitting in the same leaking boat with the same empty feeling nearly every opponent to visit Sager Field over the decades has felt.
Even with its constant flow of errors and the gifted runs the Eagles were receiving, Jefferson nearly kept pace for three innings. Hits from Anthony DiAmario and Corey Mangold helped produce a first-inning run.
Michael King and DiAmario had hits in a two-run second inning the Cougars had. DiAmario hit a routine three-hop grounder right at the startled shortstop and easily beat it out for a hit.
One of Hedgesville’s four errors helped the Cougars score again in the third. Even though it had scored in every inning, the Cougars still trailed 5-4 after three innings.
It was then that the flood of Jefferson errors were joined by the usual culprit that visits big innings — walks.
Butts walked three of the first four batters he saw in the fourth. The other Eagle lined a single to left. The last of the walks was completed by Logan Maloney, who inherited a 2-0 count and was called for a balk before he threw his first pitch. Matt Stambaugh’s two-run single exploded Hedgesville’s lead to 10-4.
Maloney and A.J. Boyd kept the Eagles scoreless in the game’s tailend innings.
Getting runners on base in the last three innings was still no problem for the Cougars. But pushing them home became a never-solved burden.
Jefferson had at least two baserunners aboard in all seven innings. Yet it didn’t score at all in the last three innings, leaving 10 men stranded in all and six in its final three turns against right-handers Eric Grove and Matt Frye. Grove survived long enough to finish five innings.
The four walks the Cougars worked for against Grove and Frye came in the last three innings.
Jefferson’s nine hits only matched its nine errors.
DiAmario and Michael King both had two singles . . . and Jefferson had 15 baserunners.
And the nine errors brought back the memory of the nine players who left with a state championship in 2011.