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'Dogs' King holds court, Hedgesville

April 28, 2007|By JOHN O'BRIEN

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Though he fell one pitch short of an ideal outing, Martinsburg's Brandon King had a much easier time on the mound Friday night than he did the week before.

King came one out shy of a shutout and added a two-run home run at the plate in the No. 5 Bulldogs' 6-0 win over Hedgesville on Friday at P.O. Faulkner Park - seven days after taking the loss in a 10-inning marathon against Jefferson, during which King threw 151 pitches.

Through the week, King rested his arm and ran a little more than usual in order to rebound from the 3-1 loss, and the Eagles (9-12) provided little resistance to King improving to 4-2.

Martinsburg coach John Lowery Jr. put King on a pitch count of 100, and the sophomore right-hander was taken out with two outs in the seventh after his 99th pitch was a full-count ball that walked Trey Cushwa.

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"My arm didn't hurt at all. It was just a little tight," King said. "I just didn't throw as much during the week. Everything was working well. My curveball was doing well, my changeup was doing well and my fastball was pretty good."

King allowed only Mike Ferrari's double that led off the fifth inning, and the extra layoff showed itself in the form of six walks. Still, only one Eagle reached third base the entire game, and King struck out 10.

"We need to take care of him," Lowery Jr. said. "He's our guy. ... It was a little uncharacteristic for him to walk six guys. I don't know if he'd walked six or seven guys all year. When he comes to the ballpark, he usually throws strikes.

"Of course, he had a little longer rest (between starts). He did a nice job competing."

That's something Hedgesville coach Ben Merica wouldn't say about his team, which was shut out for the third straight time against sectional competition.

Asked what needs to change when the sectional playoffs begin, Merica said, "The jury's out. I don't know. The jury's still out."

King's effort gave Hedgesville's Jake Riner (1-3) the loss. He pitched five innings, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out three.

Five of the six runs he allowed came on a pair of home runs. King's was an opposite-field shot that gave the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead in the fifth.

"He threw me three straight fastballs," King said. "The third one, I got it."

Kevin Griffin also got one, a three-run blast to center field in the third that plated Kaylor Hedges and King for a 4-0 lead.

King's home run was his fifth, and Griffin's was his fourth.

"We got our best players to the plate in RBI situations, and they produced," Lowery Jr. said. "That's a good situation for them to be in, and that's what they have to do for us to have a good chance to win."

Matinsburg's first run came in the second when Ryan Bennett, who had reached on a fielder's choice, scored on T.J. Weisenberg's double to right-center field.

Hedges walked and scored on both of the home runs. Spike Geffert recorded the last out for the Bulldogs (17-6), striking out Andrew Shaffer in relief of King.

"I didn't feel that bad (last) Friday night," King said. "Tonight was a lot easier, though."

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