Jamestown avenges three losses, gets past Grafton in state Class 4 baseball semifinal

John Cole wondered if he was watching a replay.

The Jamestown baseball coach knew his team failed to capitalize earlier this season in bases-loaded situations against rival Grafton. He saw it happen again Friday in the Virginia High School League Class 4 state semifinals at Kiwanis Park in Salem.

And again, Grafton rebuffed Jamestown, taking only minimal damage after the Eagles loaded the bases with no outs in the opening inning.

Jamestown didn’t waste its next chances.

The Eagles (19-5) loaded the bases with fewer than two outs in the second and third innings and, this time, they punished Grafton with eight runs on the way to a 10-8 win and a spot Saturday opposite the Roanoke-area Salem Spartans in their first-ever state championship-game appearance. Jamestown lost its three previous meetings against Grafton this season.

“You saw in the first inning, we almost did it again,” said Cole, whose team failed to score after loading the bases twice with fewer than two outs in a 4-2 loss to the Clippers in the Region 4A championship game May 31.

The offensive attack was led by the Eagles’ top three hitters — Spencer Pietruszynski, E.A. Woolwine and Matt Lansford — who went a combined 8 for 12 with eight RBI and five runs Friday.

“(Cole) had a game plan for us, and they’ve adjusted every single time we’ve played them,” said Grafton assistant coach Jayson Basanes, who was helping fill in as Clippers head coach Matt Lewellan was back home dealing with a family medical issue.

“They did a great job adjusting to how we play the game. You just have to tip your cap to them. It’s extremely difficult to beat a team three times, let alone four.”

The Eagles’ win marked a jarring entry in this year’s series between the teams.

The Clippers opened the season series with a 15-0 victory. The Eagles managed three combined runs in their first three chances against Grafton, but they matched that total Friday in the first 31 pitches they saw from Andrew Shartzer. Grafton (22-3) hadn’t allowed more than six runs in a game this season, but Jamestown equaled that total in the first two innings.

“We just figured it out, I guess you could say,” said Pietruszynski, who went 4 for 5 and pitched the final two innings.

Pietruszynski thought it helped to get a third look at Shartzer, who had allowed just two runs in 14 innings this season against Jamestown.

The Eagles managed six runs on seven hits in two innings before the Clippers made a pitching change.

“They just got the hits,” Basanes said. “In the past, we made some big pitches, we made some big plays. It was their turn. They got the big hits when they needed to, and they just had great at-bats in those situations.”

Those big hits didn’t come until the second inning, after the Eagles scored once in the first on a bases-loaded walk after loading the bases with no outs.

The Eagles opened the second with three straight singles. E.A. Woolwine followed with a ground-rule double, and Matt Lansford smacked a triple. After a sacrifice fly by Jared Mason, Jamestown led 6-1.

The Eagles again loaded the bases in the third, and Woolwine hit a one-out, two-run double as part of a three-run inning to give Jamestown a 9-1 lead.

“We had not pressured them in the previous three outings, and we came out and pressured them, and I thought they got back on their heels a little bit,” Cole said. “They’re very well-coached, and they’re a very good team. ... They’re explosive and strong. We never felt comfortable.”

Grafton started to scratch back in the fifth inning. Down 9-2, the Clippers stayed patient at the plate, worked counts and drew two walks and a hit by pitch. Brayden Hodges hit a triple, Justin Bowers knocked him in with a double, and Jack Daszkowski hit a two-run home run as part of a five-run inning to pull within two runs.

The Eagles added an insurance run in the seventh with an RBI single by Pietruszynski. The extra run helped Jamestown absorb a solo homer by Tyler Cotten to lead off the bottom of the seventh. After the Cotten homer, Hunter Pegram made a leaping catch against the left-center-field wall to rob Adam Sanders of an extra-base hit. Pietruszynski got the final two outs and calmly walked toward the dugout as his teammates stormed the field in celebration.

Cole gambled by starting Bobby Dudeck on the mound. Dudeck struck out five over four innings, allowing five runs, four of which were earned, but it was only his third start of the season.

When asked why he picked Dudeck, Cole smiled and said, “I don’t know. Secret plan, I guess.”

Cole said Woolwine will likely start Saturday against Salem. He pitched Tuesday in the quarterfinals but will have enough rest to pitch in the title game. Woolwine, who went 3 for 5 with four RBI against Grafton, is 11-1 with a 1.09 earned-run average on the season.

“It’s a great opportunity. We’ll try to stay away from the clutter over the next 24 hours,” Cole said.

JAMESTOWN 10, GRAFTON 8

Jamestown 153 001 1—10 12 2

Grafton 100 150 1—8 7 2

WP: Bobby Dudeck. LP: Andrew Shartzer. Save: Spencer Pietruszynski. Standouts: Jamestown, Pietruszynski 4-5 (1 RBI), E.A. Woolwine 3-5 (2 doubles, 4 RBI), Matt Lansford 1-2 (triple, 3 RBI), Ryan Pastirik 3-4 (double); Grafton, Jack Daszkowski 1-4 (HR, 3 RBI). Records: Jamestown 19-5, Grafton 22-3.

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