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Bulldogs pay the Piper

May 05, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - He used a bat instead of a flute, yet Jefferson's Brandon Piper just as easily could have been named Pied.

He got the key hits and the Cougars followed him home.

Piper, a late-inning replacement, had two hits and three RBI as No. 6 Jefferson scored seven runs in the last two innings to claim a 10-4 victory over Panhandle arch-rival Martinsburg Tuesday at P.O. Faulkner Park.

"I love baseball," Piper said, after becoming an unlikely hero. "I just want to try to do whatever I can to help the team."

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On this night, it was swinging the bat ... and being in the right place at the right time.

Piper, a sophomore, entered the game at first base in the fifth when designated hitter Corie Gustines took over at catcher. The move eliminated Jefferson's use of the DH and forced first baseman Spencer Weller out of the game.

"He got in mostly because I wanted to get Gustines in," Jefferson coach John Lowery said. "He is our regular catcher. Piper is on the team mostly as a pitcher, but he takes his ground balls like everyone else and is good around the bag. And now, as it works out, we found ourselves another hitter."

Piper, who was 1-for-3 for the season when he entered the game, came to bat with the score tied 3-3 and one out in the sixth. Kylee Griffith was on first via the walk from Martinsburg relief pitcher Jacob Wines when Piper made good on his opportunity.

He lined a double to the left-center field gap to score pinch-runner Brent Caves from first to start a four-run rally.

After Will Grantham singled, David Smith ripped a two-run triple to right and later scored on Adam Kessel's groundout.

Piper then capped Jefferson's three-run seventh inning with a two-run single to left as the Cougars (15-8) scored an ample supply of insurance runs.

"Coach said the other day in practice to put the ball in play," Piper said. "The ball was in the middle of the plate and I just put it in play."

The rallies blew open a tied game which was sloppy in the beginning and tight in the middle innings.

Jefferson got two runs in the first as Grantham, Smith and Kessel led off the game with singles creating a run against Martinsburg starter Trevor Hedges. The Cougars added two more in the second to regain a 3-2 lead with the help of two Martinsburg errors.

Martinsburg got two runs off Jefferson starter Jonathan Hash in the first and tied the game at 3-3 with a run in the third.

All four of Martinsburg's runs were scored without benefit of being driven in - two by passed balls and two by errors. The Bulldogs (7-11) managed just three hits.

"We need to put the bat on the ball in critical situations," Martinsburg coach Dennis Etherington said. "We fell victim to ourselves. They did it when they needed and we didn't, plain and simple."

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