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Wilt's bat comes to life in win over Hedgesville

April 20, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - The case could be made that "as Wilt goes, so goes the Jefferson offense."

But Jefferson junior Joe Wilt, despite his .438 batting average entering Tuesday's baseball game against Hedgesville, said afterward he "hadn't been hitting the ball that well of late."

The lumbering first baseman, who resembles a high school version of former major leaguer John Kruk, rattled Hedgesville pitching for a pair of doubles and a single, scored three runs and drove in a pair to lead Jefferson to its 10th straight win in a 7-3 victory over the Eagles.

"This was some better hitting tonight," said Wilt, who led off two innings with hits that paved the way to runs. "I've been slumping but tonight I felt more relaxed."

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On the strength of three-run innings in the fifth and sixth to break a 1-1 tie and the pitching of junior Brian Collins, the Cougars (15-3) beat the Eagles (14-8) for the second time, having won 6-1 on April 8.

In a 1-1 tie through 4 1/2 innings, Wilt led off Jefferson's fifth against Robert Ahalt with a single and Devin Terris became the courtesy runner. One out later, Brendan McLaughlin hit a high chopper off the plate for an infield hit.

Will Grantham, who didn't get the ball out of the infield his first two at-bats, sent a bouncer past Hedgesville first baseman Josh Huff that scored Terris. The relay to home plate was overthrown, McLaughlin scored and Grantham ended up at third, soon to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of David Smith.

Hedgesville bounced back with two runs in the sixth on Corey Chaney's single, a walk and two errors, but Jefferson responded against reliever Cody Seibert with a walk, hit batsman, a two-run double by Wilt and a run-scoring double by McLaughlin.

All told, the bottom of Jefferson's lineup had six of its eight hits to back Collins' performance. Wilt's first double came in the third inning and he scored on an RBI groundout by McLaughlin.

"Maybe I should put them up at the top of the lineup," said Jefferson coach John Lowery.

"I got two outside fastballs and I went with them (to left)," said Wilt, who then smacked his second double to right-centerfield in the sixth.

Collins had pitched only eight innings prior to his start and threw as if he had not missed a beat. He struck out five and walked one after allowing Hedgesville a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Justin Everhart.

"I had my curve ball working for me pretty good," said Collins, who leads Jefferson in batting. "I've started many games pitching in Legion ball, but this was a very different start ... just had to be ready for the occasion."

"(Brian) was a projected starter and I wanted to get the other starters an extra day of rest," said Lowery.

Chaney was the only Eagle that measured up to Collins' offerings with three of the six hits registered by Hedgesville.

"Our bats have been feeble," said Eagles coach Ben Merica. "We've produced in other ways, but we're just not getting the big hit. But there's still plenty of time left in the season."

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