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'Dogs handle Cougars

May 07, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- Martinsburg gained the advantage in the West Virginia Class AAA Region II Section 2 baseball tournament Tuesday night at Sager Field with an 11-5 victory over defending state champion Jefferson.

Martinsburg (21-11) earned a day off today while Jefferson (29-3) was pushed into tonight's elimination game at Sager Field against Hedgesville, which Martinsburg defeated 5-1 on Monday to open the double-elimination event.

"The most important aspect of this game was winning tonight," said Martinsburg coach John Lowery Jr. "That's what we conveyed to the kids ... but it's still only one game in a long journey."

Brandon King survived a shaky first inning when Jefferson's Kyle Walker smacked a two-run home run, and he worked out of a big jam in the second inning when Jefferson scored without the benefit of a hit for a 3-0 lead. King was helped by shortstop Spike Geffert, who made a terrific play to retire Tyler Hester and fuse Jefferson's momentum.

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"I thought (Geffert's) play to get out of the inning was the biggest play of the game and we sort of fed off that," said Lowery Jr. "It was a break that went our way, keeping them from scoring more and we came out in the third inning and started hitting the ball."

Indeed they did, knocking around Jefferson's Brandon Campbell for a four-spot in the top of the third with RBI singles from Geffert, Ryan Bennett and Zach Woolcock and a sacrifice fly by Zach Stolipher.

Jefferson knotted the score at 4 in the bottom of third on a walk, stolen base, throwing error and wild pitch.

However, King put Jefferson on the verge of its first home loss of the year after 18 wins.

With two outs and Jordan Mason on second with a double and Geffert on via a walk, King launched a high, opposite-field fly that carried over the 312-foot sign in right for a 7-4 lead, sending Campbell (9-1) to the showers.

Kam Puller had an RBI single in the fifth and an RBI double in a three-run seventh that further lowered the boom on the Cougars, who finished with just three hits.

King (5-3) went the distance with 100 pitches, striking out seven and walking three. He allowed only one hit after the first inning, a single in the sixth by Brett Moreland.

"For some reason the first inning is my worst and the home run got me down a little," said King, who will head to the University of Tennessee next fall. "But my team lifted me up."

The Bulldogs beat Jefferson 1-0 at Martinsburg in last year's sectional tournament but the Cougars rebounded to win the sectional and proceed on to win the state, a feat they'll have to duplicate again.

"We need to get some continuity on offense," said Jefferson coach John Lowery Sr. "We've spent our margin for error. Now it makes for an interesting tournament losing this first game. But I give credit to Martinsburg. They had a focus tonight and they achieved it."

The win was the first for Martinsburg at Jefferson since it posted a 9-4 win in 2003.

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