Hoffman douses fire in Blazers' victory

April 16, 1999|By JACK HILL III

CLEAR SPRING - The Clear Spring baseball team, down by six runs, could have packed it in.

But the Blazers put together a six-run sixth inning and a two-run ninth to edge the Mount Savage Indians 11-10 in nine innings Friday.

The rallies might have gone for naught had not Clear Spring reliever Toby Hoffman shut down the visitors. He gave up only one run and struck out seven batters in 3 1/3 innings.

"Before the game, we told our players that baseball is like a war," Clear Spring coach Jim Hutson said. "We told them that you have got to play it like life or death. We told them that they have got to be like warriors. Our players got the message and played hard. When we were down 9-3, we could have folded our tents."


Hutson had nothing but praise for Hoffman.

"Toby Hoffman came on and stopped them right dead in the water," Hutson added. "He got a few of his strikeouts on change-ups. Toby was the difference. Without Toby, we wouldn't have been close."

Hoffman made sure that Mount Savage (6-3) got few good pitches to hit. He retired six of the first seven batters he faced.

"I just wanted to keep the ball away from the middle of the plate as much as possible because they have a pretty good hitting team," Hoffman said. "I just didn't want them to hit anymore than what they already had. We have a really good team. When we need to, we just pull together."

Ricky Myers led off the bottom of the sixth for Clear Spring (4-6) with a double to center. Myers took third on a single to left by Ben Bussard and then scored on a Justin Saloom fielder's choice. Barry Smoot followed with a double to right.

Hoffman helped himself with a single to left to drive in Saloom and Smoot. One out later, Jeff McCauley walked. After that, Matt Michael tripled to the right field fence to bring home Hoffman and McCauley. Michael scored the tying run on Jimmy Sanders' single to left.

After Mount Savage got a run in the top of the ninth, Clear Spring responded with two runs.

Sanders started the winning rally for the Blazers with a single to center. He took second when Myers beat out a bunt. Sanders took third after Myers was forced out at second and then scored on Saloom's sacrifice fly. Bussard, who reached when Myers was forced out, went to second on a wild pitch and scored the winning run on Smoot's single to right.

Myers and Bussard banged out three hits each. Both Michael and Bussard scored two runs and drove in two runs.

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