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Blazers rally by Hancock

April 30, 1999|By MARK KELLER

Put the ball in play.

That was Tony Mirra's mission when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday night at Municipal Stadium.

After fouling off the first pitch, Mirra beat out a grounder to first and Barry Smoot scored from second on the play to give the Blazers a 9-8 victory over Hancock.

"I told him if he gets that first pitch, he better be drilling it," said Hutson. "He drilled it foul, but at least he was listening to me. He knew I was anxious for him not to be getting in a hole with two strikes on him and looking at a curveball."

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Mirra's grounder handcuffed Hancock first baseman Paul Norris, and by the time he got a handle on the ball, he was a step behind Mirra getting to the bag.

In the meantime, Smoot rounded third and headed home without hesitation, sliding in under the tag of catcher Sam Higgins.

"I never waved Barry. Barry just kept on running," said Hutson. "I just looked at him and thought, 'Well, let's hope for the best.'"

Smoot's run capped Clear Spring's rally from an 8-2 deficit and earned him the win. He pitched six innings in relief of starter Jeff McCauley, who was touched for six runs in two-plus innings.

The game could hardly be called a pitcher's duel by looking at the numbers - 17 runs, 28 hits and a grand total of 304 pitches thrown. But Smoot and his Hancock counterpart, Derek Hoffman, gave what could only be called courageous performances.

Hoffman went the distance, throwing 154 pitches and giving up 13 hits. He walked three (one intentionally) and struck out nine.

Smoot gave up seven hits, but only in the fourth did Hancock (3-12) manage two hits in the same frame against him. He struck out six and walked one.

The Panthers jumped all over McCauley, scoring three runs off him in the second and third before Smoot came on. They got one off Smoot in the third and another in the fourth before being shut down.

The Blazers (7-8) got back into it on Justin Saloom's three-run homer in the fifth pulled them back into the game. They got two more in the sixth on two Hancock errors to tie the score.

Justin Michael and Ricky Myers each had three hits for Clear Spring. Chris Dobrzanski went 5-for-5 with three doubles and Sam Higgins added four hits for the Panthers.

"That's been our story. We somehow get a nice lead and find a way to lose ... and it's frustrating," said Hancock coach Danny Kerns.

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