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Hash goes 10 innings to beat 'Dogs

April 21, 2007|By JOHN O'BRIEN / Staff Correspondent

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Ask Martinsburg coach John Lowery Jr. and he's not hesitant about admitting how hard it is to beat Jefferson when senior pitcher Jonathan Hash is on the mound.

After Friday night's 10-inning classic at P.O. Faulkner Field, he's wondering if it's even possible.

Hash pitched all 10 innings of a 3-1 Cougars win that gave No. 1 Jefferson the first-round bye when the sectional playoffs begin. The West Virginia University signee allowed only five hits and struck out 10.

"Hash is the best pitcher in the state, by far," Lowery Jr. said. "I don't know what it takes to beat that guy. I don't know if we'll ever beat that guy."

Hash struck out 12 Bulldogs in a 6-2 Jefferson win earlier this month. Friday's win was much more difficult, as he went pitch for pitch with sophomore Brandon King.

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In fact, the two combined for 292 pitches, 151 being thrown by King and 141 by Hash.

"I've never pitched that much," said Hash, whose only loss came against St. Albans (D.C.). "I was getting on top of my fastball and coming back with the curveball to get them off balance. It got me out of a lot of trouble."

It was a fastball - and his left fielder - that bailed Hash (3-1) out of his biggest jam, a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the eighth.

With a 1-1 score, Spike Geffert led off the Martinsburg eighth with a double that bounced by a diving Matt Tiano near the right-field line. Geffert moved to third on Kaylor Hedges' bunt, giving the No. 5 Bulldogs (12-6) their best scoring opportunity in the extra innings.

Jefferson coach John Lowery Sr. decided to walk Martinsburg's Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, King and Kevin Griffin, to load the bases for Paul Chenoweth, who punched a 2-2 fastball into short left field.

Kyle Koppenhaver caught it near the line and fired home to catcher Wes Kidwell to nail a tagging Geffert by 20 feet and end the inning.

"That play had as good of odds as any play," Lowery Jr. said. "You have to catch it, throw it 150 feet, the catcher has to catch it and make the tag. Looking back on the play, you could say that we shouldn't have sent him, but it had the highest percentage of any play we'd had at that point."

Hash called watching the play unfold from behind the catcher "surreal" and said he was not surprised Geffert was sent home.

"Anytime you put the ball in play, you have to try and score runs," Hash said. "There was a 50-50 chance. We had to throw over the runner. We would have done the same thing."

The teams played a scoreless ninth until the Cougars (15-3) plated two in the top of the 10th.

Kidwell drew a one-out walk, then appeared to be picked off first while Colton Gustines missed a bunt attempt. However, Griffin's throw from behind the plate to first was in the dirt, and Kidwell made it safely to second.

With no more need to bunt, Gustines uncorked a triple to right field that bounced and eluded Chenoweth to break the tie.

"I kind of get the feeling my guys don't want to bunt too much," Lowery Sr. joked.

Gustines scored on a suicide squeeze laid down by Tiano, who reached first when King (3-2) had trouble picking it up. It was King's final batter, and Chenoweth struck out the next two.

King pitched 9 1/3 innings, allowing nine hits and two walks. He struck out nine, and all three runs were earned. Bobby O'Donnell scored on Hash's single in the first, one of four Cougar hits that only produced one run because of a pickoff.

Martinsburg tied it in the sixth when Griffin doubled to the gap in right-center, plating Hedges, who was 2-for-3.

Justin Grantham was 3-for-5 for Jefferson, while Hash went 2-for-4.

Lowery Sr. was more impressed with Hash's pitching line.

"I think his performance speaks for itself," he said. "He's a big, strong kid, a gutsy kid who likes to compete. That's never showed itself more than it did tonight."

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