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Cougars remain trendy

April 23, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - It only took an hour and 44 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity for the Hedgesville baseball team.

No. 3 Jefferson had just finished a 17-3 victory - no, make that embarrassment - of the Eagles in return-to-March temperatures on Monday night. Hedgesville coach Ben Merica sat in the dugout, first baseman's glove in hand, absent-mindedly throwing a ball into it.

He had just made as many plays as his team had during the past five innings.

"We're snake-bit right now, and we're not really coming to the park ready to play," Merica said. "Sometimes you gotta bow your neck and just get it done, like the old-timers say."

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At this rate, a whole herd of oxen wouldn't stop Jefferson's runaway train. The Cougars used a 12-run fifth inning and three early homers to post their 20th victory - the 26th straight season Jefferson has reached that milestone. The win further sealed its recent domination of Hedgesville: Jefferson has won six straight and 17 of the last 19 in the series.

"This one felt real good," said Jefferson's Denny Hartlove, who finished a triple short of the cycle. "We changed the lineup and we've started hitting. I think we've finally got it."

Jefferson (20-6, 5-2 Apple Valley League) had it right from the start. Donell Lee's three-run homer and Kevin McLaughlin's solo shot made it a 4-0 game just five batters in.

Buoyed by a two-run homer from Matt Faircloth, Hedgesville (6-7, 2-4) closed within 5-3, but Jefferson, brimming with confidence thanks to that new batting order, ended the hope from there.

Eight straight batters reached to start the fifth, including two on back-to-back errors. The Cougars dinged Dirk Webb for six hits, then Brian McLaughlin greeted reliever Eric Hartley with a two-run double.

The final fifth-inning carnage: 16 batters, 12 runs, nine hits, three errors, one collective ego bruised beyond repair.

"Hey, it's the same thing Martinsburg did to us," said Jefferson coach John Lowery, referring to a 10-0 loss to the Bulldogs last week. "It's nothing-nothing the next time. And if you don't respect that, it'll come back and bite you."

No. 3 Jefferson 17, Hedgesville 3

Jefferson 4100(12)-17154

Hedgesville 00210-344

Osbourn, Kozak (5) and Noll, Davis (5). Webb, Hartley (5) and Faircloth. WP-Osbourn (2-1). LP-Webb (3-2). HR-J: Lee (1st, two on), K. McLaughlin (1st, none on), Hartlove (3rd, none on); H: Faircloth (3rd, one on).

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