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Cenate rules in Jefferson win

May 25, 1999|By MARK KELLER

ROMNEY, W.Va. - John Lowery didn't think he'd have to make the move this early. Josh Cenate certainly wasn't expecting it.

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But it happened, after just four batters Tuesday in the Class AAA Region II semifinal against Musselman. Lowery took the long walk from the Jefferson dugout to the mound, took the ball from starting pitcher Jimmy Rhodes and summoned Cenate from first base.

When he took the mound, the Applemen had the bases loaded with a a 1-0 lead. When the first inning ended, Musselman still had a 1-0 lead.

Cenate worked out of the jam and held the No. 5 Applemen down until the Cougars' bats warmed up in the third as No. 1 Jefferson went on to a 14-6 win and advanced to Thursday's region final in Morgantown against University.

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"I didn't throw but 10 pitches before the game warming up, because (Lowery) told me not to throw too much," said Cenate, who was told by Lowery he would pitch in an emergency. "It was something I totally wasn't ready for, but it's something you've got to do to help the ballclub."

Cenate worked out of the situation created more by defensive mistakes than by Rhodes. Rhodes was the victim of two errors, both by third baseman Scott Wells. Mike Hudson and Willy Williams singled, with Williams' hit being the final straw for Rhodes - temporarily.

Cenate came on and struck out Aaron Mueller. Hudson was cut down trying to score on a suicide squeeze and Zach Boyd grounded to first to end the inning. Keith Keller singled in Kenny Stanley to give the Applemen (23-8) a 2-0 lead in the second before Jefferson's bats came to life.

Wells homered to lead off the Jefferson third. Josh Green and Cenate hit back-to-back one-out doubles, and Justin Osbourn had an RBI single to give the Cougars (29-4) the lead for good, 3-2.

Cenate settled in after that, retiring 11 straight before Williams doubled in the sixth. He allowed four hits and struck out seven in six innings. Rhodes re-entered to start the seventh, giving up three runs and three hits.

Keller, Hudson and Williams had two hits each for the Applemen, who ended the night by huddling and giving themselves a round of applause on a record-breaking season.

"Four years ago, this team came in here as a JV team and went 1-18," Cunningham said. "But they've worked their butts off. They do whatever it takes to win in the game of baseball, and they'll be winners in the game of life."

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