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Campbell has right brand for Cougars

May 24, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Junior lefty Brandon Campbell has had some fine games for Jefferson this season, but none may have been as well-rounded as the one on Wednesday.

Campbell crafted a nifty one-hitter, delivered a run-scoring double and was on the front end of a double play to help lead Jefferson to a 10-0 victory in 4 1/2 innings over Elkins at Sager Field for the West Virginia Class AAA Region II championship.

The Cougars (32-4), ranked No. 2 in West Virginia, march into the state semifinals against Fairmont Sr. (20-16), a 6-2 upset winner over No. 3 John Marshall on Wednesday, on June 1 at 5 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.

"I thought it would be a closer game," said Campbell, who moved to 7-1 and improved on his 2.45 earned run average. "In baseball, you just don't know what's going to happen."

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"We knew (Brandon) had talent at the beginning of the year, but I give him credit that he has become a surprise for us," said Jefferson coach John Lowery. "Pitching, he has been a very nice complement to Jonathan (Hash). He has a nice breaking ball and stays around the plate."

Campbell stayed walk-free and used a sharp curveball to record nine strikeouts. He hit one batter while holding Elkins to two baserunners in five innings.

Only a fluke, wind-blown double kept the Tigers from being no-hit.

Ross Ware led off the second with a fly ball to left-center that sailed back to the foul line over the head of Jefferson left fielder Kyle Koppenhaver. Ware advanced to third on a fly ball before Campbell got two strikeouts to end the threat.

Jefferson's offense answered by loading the bases against Elkins' 6-foot-5 senior ace Kevin Pritt, who entered with a 5-1 record, 1.91 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 48 innings.

An Elkins error, a single by Koppenhaver followed by a fielding error and a run-scoring single by Wes Kidwell gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

"I thought that second inning, getting only one run, might have been an omen," said Lowery.

Justin Grantham and Drew Stevens opened the third with singles and Hash walked to give Jefferson a bases-loaded, no-out situation.

This time, the Cougars did not relent, with some help from Elkins.

Koppenhaver bounced to Ware at third, who threw wide to home on the force attempt, scoring Grantham for a 2-0 lead.

Elkins committed two more errors and Campbell gave the Cougars a 6-0 lead when he roped a double to the fence in center.

Batting around, Stevens knocked out Pritt with a run-scoring single and Koppenhaver slapped a two-out single off reliever Mark Harris to finish off a nine-run inning.

"We got some runners on base and we were fortunate to get some hits and (Elkins) caught some tough breaks," said Lowery, who picked up win No. 996 in his 36-year coaching career.

In the top of the Elkins fourth, Campbell hit Aaron Gainer with a pitch before coming up with his defensive gem.

Ware slapped a bouncer up the middle that Campbell stabbed at his ankle while following through to his right on his pitching motion. He turned and threw to shortstop Cody Gustines to start a double play.

"I was off balance and that was the toughest play I've made all year," said Campbell, who plays first baseman when not pitching.

Koppenhaver had two hits and three RBI for Jefferson.

The Cougars will face a Fairmont Senior team it defeated 7-3 and 12-7 on April 27.

"(Fairmont) has a pretty good lefthander and they had some players that weren't healthy," said Lowery. "I don't think we saw the real Fairmont team back then.

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