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Bulldogs squeeze past Jefferson

May 11, 2007|by JOHN O'BRIEN / Staff Correspondent

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - All Martinsburg needed to defeat Jefferson in a sectional playoff game for the first time since 2000 were the element of surprise and two rubber-armed pitchers.

Brandon King and Paul Chenoweth combined on a four-hit, nine-inning shutout, and Zach Newhouse drove home the game-winning run with a suicide squeeze bunt that gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 win and one last chance to deny the Cougars (29-4) their 12th consecutive sectional title in tonight's do-or-die game for both teams.

King had thrown 60 pitches in four innings of Tuesday's 5-0 loss before coach John Lowery Jr. pulled the sophomore because he didn't see Jefferson ace Jonathan Hash allowing a run. Calling it "a calculated risk" to save him for later in the week, Lowery Jr., who defeated his father for the first time in his three years at Martinsburg, proved correct.

Chenoweth (7-1), meanwhile, pitched four innings and allowed only one hit in earning a 5-4 comeback victory against Hedgesville on Wednesday. He threw 43 pitches in that game and 52 Thursday night and said his arm "is all right. It's a little sore but I've gotta deal with it."

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Chenoweth was actually brought in twice. Lowery Jr. pulled King in the sixth inning after Justin Grantham recorded his third hit with a two-out double in favor of the lefty, who retired lefty-swinging Drew Stevens on a groundout. When the seventh began, King re-entered for one more inning, and Chenoweth pitched the final two.

King, who totaled 76 pitches, threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out five. Chenoweth gave up no hits, walked one and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings.

"It was phenomenal," Lowery Jr. said. "To walk only one guy in nine innings, and the defense makes no errors in this environment ... (Chenoweth and King) are big strong kids. Those kids prepared all year long for this."

And Newhouse provided what little offense there was. Chenoweth grounded a one-out single into right field in the bottom of the ninth, and courtesy runner Toby Twigg moved to second on a wild pitch during T.J. Weisenberg's at-bat, which resulted in an intentional walk. He then scooted to third on another wild pitch with Newhouse at the plate.

Newhouse had walked, struck out and been hit by a pitch before rolling a 1-2 pitch up the first-base line while Twigg streaked home.

"Zach's a good bunter. It was our best chance," Lowery Jr. said. "We've struck out so much the last couple of nights. I thought that was our best play.

"I guess I learned from my father. The element of surprise is a definite factor in succeeding at the high school level."

Lowery Sr. wasn't so surprised that his team lost.

"The bottom line is if you don't score you don't win," said Lowery, noting that his team couldn't force King to throw a lot of pitches because he was throwing strikes.

Junior lefty Brandon Campbell was the tough-luck loser, allowing the one run and two hits in 8 1/3 innings. He struck out 10, walked three and beaned three in falling to 6-1.

Jefferson's best chances to score came in the first and fourth innings. In the first, Grantham singled and moved to second on a wild pitch with one out. King retired Stevens on a groundout and Hash flew out to left field.

In the fourth, Grantham led off with a single but was erased on a 4-6-3 double play.

Martinsburg (25-8) loaded the bases in the second with one out, but Stevens snagged Jake Wines' liner at third base, and Newhouse was so far off first base that Stevens ran the length of the infield to touch first himself.

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