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Hedgesville eliminates defending W.Va. champ Jefferson

May 08, 2008|By JOHN O'BRIEN / Staff Correspondent

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- The final year of the Martinsburg-Hedgesville-Jefferson baseball sectional has gone about as unexpectedly as any before it.

Hedgesville shocked top-seeded Jefferson with a four-run sixth inning Wednesday, turning a potential no-hitter into the last game of the Cougars' season, a 4-2 loss.

Jefferson did not lose to a West Virginia school during the regular season, amassing a 29-2 record, but fell to Martinsburg 11-5 Tuesday to set up Wednesday's elimination game. Both losses came at home, and they ended Jefferson's 12-year sectional reign.

"It's frustrating, it's upsetting," said Jefferson coach John Lowery, whose team will join Hampshire and a newly opened Washington High in a section next year. "I feel we had a great year, but it didn't work out last night and tonight."

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Behind Jake Riner's gutsy effort on the mound, the Eagles (16-16) moved on to host Martinsburg tonight. Hedgesville will have to beat the Bulldogs (20-11) twice.

"We've been streaky all year," Hedgesville coach Ben Merica said. "We'd win a bunch, then we'd lose a bunch. Hopefully it will start in the right direction now."

Held hitless by Bryan Maxfield (2-1) through the first five innings, Hedgesville finally got to him in the sixth when Mike Ferrari singled up the middle.

Sean Huff followed with a grounder up the middle that shortstop Chris Kelley bobbled and could not turn into an out, and Tyler McCain followed with a bunt single just past Maxfield to load the bases.

Jordan Smith jumped on the first pitch he saw, singling into left field to plate courtesy runner Chris Scanlan. Mo Adams then beat out a double-play ball to score Huff and tie the game at 2-2, and Maxfield struck out Riner for the second out.

Shortstop Andrew Shaffer, a strikeout victim his previous at-bat, singled sharply on a 2-2 pitch to center field to score McCain and pinch runner Michael Frush, who had stolen second during Riner's at-bat. Maxfield was pulled after the hit, behind 4-2.

"I knew we were going to get on him eventually," Shaffer said. "All it took was one big hit. Mike came up big. I knew we were going to start hitting after that.

"He threw me two curveballs, got two strikes on me real quick. I had to switch to my two-strike swing, just get my bat on it."

And Riner made sure it was enough, though he twice nearly gave up a game-tying home run to Kyle Walker. Walker took one of Riner's offerings down the left field line, but it crossed the pole 10 feet foul.

Two pitches later, he hit one even closer, but it was also foul.

"I was kind of hoping it would stay in and wrap around the foul pole, but it didn't," Lowery said.

Shaffer said his first thought was, "Jake, don't throw it in there like that again."

And he didn't. Riner struck him out on a fastball on the outside corner, and struck out the side in the seventh.

Overall, he struck out eight and allowed two hits, five walks and two earned runs. Both were scored by Tyler Hester after he walked.

In the first, Hester scored when Ferrari's attempt at catching him stealing third sailed into left. In the third, he scored on Phillip Ranalli's single after stealing second.

Ranalli had the Cougars' only two hits. Jefferson had only three Tuesday against Martinsburg's Brandon King.

"It's tough," Lowery said. "You gotta play perfect baseball when you don't score any runs."

 

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