Eagles giving Cougars a real test

May 12, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

So much for Jefferson's 41 straight wins against West Virginia opponents. The Cougars - the top-ranked baseball team in West Virginia Class AAA - are in a dogfight against surging Hedgesville for the West Virginia Region II, Section 2 championship.

The Eagles put two regular-season losses to Jefferson behind them and won a thrilling 5-4 decision in nine innings in Wednesday's opener of the best-of-3 series.

"(Wednesday's) game, both teams had opportunities to win, and they, in the end, were able to cash in on theirs," said Jefferson coach John Lowery of the Eagles.

Game 2 was rained out Thursday and is scheduled to be played at Hedgesville tonight at 7 p.m., with Game 3, if necessary, scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Jefferson.


The Cougars gathered at their indoor hitting facility Thursday, and Lowery said they're ready to play.

"Obviously, they realize what they've got to do," Lowery said. "There's a margin of error available, and we used that margin last night, so it's all single elimination now and if (we) want to advance, (we) need to win.

"They don't like to lose, which is stating the obvious. They're anxious to get out there, square it up and get home again."

Hedgesville reached the sectional championship series with an 11-0 blasting of Martinsburg in the opening round. The Bulldogs were then eliminated by Jefferson, 12-2. The Eagles have won four of their last five after a three-game losing streak.

"Hedgesville's playing tough now," Lowery said. "They've had some nice wins down the stretch. ... He still has (pitcher Robert) Ahalt for the next game, and it will be interesting. (Merica's) kids are playing well, playing with a lot of enthusiasm, and I'm hoping our kids can match their spirit."

Should Game 2 go off as scheduled today, Ahalt (4-1, 2.89 ERA) would likely face Jordan Diehl (5-0, 3.38).

Bracket building

Postseason play starts throughout the Tri-State area today, weather permitting, with the Maryland regional playoffs and the Mid-Penn playoffs getting under way.

In Maryland, eight Washington County teams open play this evening in eight first-round games, only one of which is being played in the county - Smithsburg's softball team hosts Northern Garrett in a Class 1A West contest at 4:30.

In Class 1A West baseball, Hancock travels to Westmar, Smithsburg heads to Allegany and Clear Spring journeys to Fort Hill. In Class 2A West, South Hagerstown travels to Winters Mill.

In Class 1A West softball, Clear Spring travels to Westmar and Hancock journeys to Southern Garrett. In Class 2A West, North Hagerstown heads to Liberty.

On Monday, Williamsport heads to Boonsboro for a Class 1A West softball quarterfinal that should be close. The Warriors swept the two MVAL Antietam games by scores of 5-4 and 2-0. In Class 1A West baseball, a Clear Spring victory over Fort Hill would send the Blazers into a quarterfinal matchup with MVAL Antietam champion Boonsboro, a tough draw for both teams.

In Pennsylvania, Greencastle and James Buchanan start Mid-Penn Class AAA baseball play this afternoon. The Blue Devils host Bishop McDevitt, while the Rockets travel to Shippensburg. Both games start at 4 p.m.

In the "How does that happen?" category, Waynesboro's baseball team went 18-1 in the regular season and has been the No. 1 team in The Herald-Mail Super 7 all season, but if the second-seeded Indians lose to Central Dauphin in a Mid-Penn AAAA first-round game Monday, their season will be over without so much as a District 3-AAAA playoff berth.

Meanwhile, Chambersburg (13-5) is already assured a place in the district bracket as the top-seeded team in the Mid-Penn AAAA playoffs. The Trojans get a bye into Tuesday's semifinals.

The Mid-Penn softball playoffs open Monday, with all Class AAAA and Class AAA games being played at the Heishman Complex in Newville. In Class AAA, Greencastle plays Gettysburg and James Buchanan faces Susquehanna Township at 4 p.m. Monday, with the winners of both games facing off at 7:30. Chambersburg has a bye into Tuesday's Class AAAA semifinals.

Best of the week


Alex Zoretich, St. Maria Goretti - Hit a walk-off home run in the eighth inning to give the Gaels a 2-1 win over Smithsburg on Monday.

Cord Heine, Mercersburg - Hit a walk-off, two-run home run for a 2-1 victory over Notre Dame Academy on Wednesday.

Justin Combs, Musselman - Hit two homers and drove in five runs in a 13-12 loss to Hampshire that ended the Applemen's season Wednesday night.

Cory Briggs, Greencastle - He gets a belated best-of appearance for his five home runs two weeks ago, including three against Steel-High.


Jessica Patey, Williamsport - Has four home runs in the Wildcats' last four games.

Sarah Signore, Greencastle - Struck out 10 in a 3-1 victory over Chambersburg on Wednesday. She's 2-1 against the powerhouse Trojans in her career.

Cree Riley and Kelsey Roman, Mercersburg - Combined to no-hit St. James 12-0 on Tuesday.

Taryn Ashway, Waynesboro - Tossed a six-inning no-hitter with 13 strikeouts in defeating Mechanicsburg 10-0 on Wednesday.

Jessica Shirley, Hedgesville - Tossed a three-hitter with six strikeouts as the Eagles beat Martinsburg 2-1 Wednesday for the Region II Section 2 title.

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