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Jefferson's monuments

Cougars pounce early for 9th

Cougars pounce early for 9th

June 03, 2007|By JOHN O'BRIEN

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - After a hard-fought semifinal win, the Jefferson Cougars showed no interest in waiting to claim their ninth Class AAA state baseball championship Saturday.

The Cougars essentially wrapped things up with a nine-run first inning that propelled them to an 11-4 win over Woodrow Wilson of Beckley, just 22 hours after needing a sixth-inning comeback to force extra innings in a 7-3 nine-inning win over Fairmont Senior.

Drew Stevens drove in six runs in the inning, including a three-run home run his first time up.

"(Friday's game) took a lot out of us," Stevens said. "We didn't wanna do that again."

And it showed, as the Cougars (34-4) completed a season in which it lost to only one team in the state, a nine-inning defeat at the hands of Martinsburg during the sectional tournament. Fairmont nearly became the second team, but Jefferson's offense attacked just in time and continued doing so in Saturday's game.

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"Once we woke up, we couldn't be stopped," senior pitcher and first baseman Jonathan Hash said.

Woodrow Wilson, meanwhile, had trouble waking up after a late night Friday. The Flying Eagles (17-11) overcame a 6-1 deficit to win 8-7 over Nitro in eight innings in the day's late game.

"They had an emotional game last night, and I'm sure a late night," said Jefferson coach John Lowery, who earned his 998th win overall and 964th at Jefferson. "Obviously, that tilted the momentum for us. That was a big plus."

Seth Allen (3-1) took the loss for Woodrow Wilson, unable to make it out of the first inning. He began the game by walking Matt Tiano and surrendering a single to Justin Grantham before Stevens nailed a 1-2 curveball over the right-field fence at Appalachian Power Park, the home of the minor league West Virginia Power.

In 21 years of playing in state tournaments at larger parks, Lowery said his teams have only hit two home runs.

"Coach has been saying all week not to try to hit home runs because the park is so big," said Stevens, who also pitched the final 2 2/3 innings. "I really wasn't trying to. I just got all of it."

"The home run, I don't think can be a part of the gameplan," Lowery added. "That said, there couldn't have been a better time for the second one."

Hash followed by walking, as did Bobby O'Donnell and Wes Kidwell. Woodrow Wilson coach Mark Daniel pulled Allen, who only retired one Cougar - a strikeout of Kyle Koppenhaver after the walk to Hash.

Allen threw 34 pitches in his brief outing, and only 16 were strikes.

"He just didn't have his best stuff on the mound today," Daniel said.

Jefferson's Brandon Campbell greeted Drew Trump with a two-run single that scored Hash and O'Donnell for a 5-0 lead, then Colton Gustines' groundout plated courtesy runner Sean Adam.

Tiano again walked and Grantham was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Stevens, who brought all runners home with a double to center field that made it 9-0.

"Any time you can get up big in a state championship, when you get nine runs, that relaxes everybody," said Hash, who was a member of the 2005 team that defeated Fairmont 11-2 in the title game. "It calms everybody's nerves."

Justin "Duner" Carey (2-0) looked relaxed on the mound despite pitching in one of only a handful of games this season, one that has been hindered by an arm injury.

Still, the senior tossed 4 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, no walks and no earned runs. Woodrow Wilson got to him in the fifth when Sean McGuire led off with a single, moved to second on catcher's interference, advanced to third on David Allen's single and scored on Lanny Meadows' groundout.

Carey was lifted after the Allen single in favor of Stevens. Campbell, the Jefferson's normal No. 2 pitcher, was available for only four innings after pitching 2 2/3 against Fairmont on Friday, but he was not needed.

"I wasn't really sure how Duner would do because he hasn't been able to throw much because of his injury," Stevens said. "But Duner's got a mindset that he's a fighter. We wanted to get out early so he wouldn't have to feel too much pressure."

Jefferson plated two in the top of the sixth when Stevens drew a leadoff walk, courtesy runner Aaron Frazee went to third on Hash's double and scored on a balk and Marquise Jones' single plated Hash.

Stevens allowed three in the sixth when McGuire singled home Seth Allen, Daniel Pheobus drove in Kevin O'Donnell with a groundout and Allen's bad-hop single off third baseman Chris Kelly allowed McGuire to score, making it 11-4.

Woodrow Wilson actually outhit the Cougars 10-9, but Jefferson drew six walks, all of which scored. For the tournament, the Cougars were walked 15 times.

Hash, Campbell, Stevens and Tiano all made the 10-player all-tournament team.

"It's been a lot of fun," Lowery said. "This group, this is some group of guys. They're a bunch of little scrappers."

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