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Bulldogs, Merceruio rising in W.Va.

May 14, 1999|By DAN SPEARS

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Martinsburg freshman pitcher Tabi Merceruio says she knows she has a good team behind her.

But when they weren't living up to their end of the bargain on Thursday afternoon, she took matters into her own hands.

Merceruio took a no-hitter into the fifth, had two hits and two RBIs and scored the winning run as the No. 6 Bulldogs moved into the Class AAA Region II tournament with a 5-4 victory over Hedgesville in the Section 2 final.

"She's thrown the ball well for us all year. ... I've got a lot of faith in her," Martinsburg coach Mike Mackey said. "And I'll tell you, for a freshman to come in and nail it down against a nice Hedgesville team ... she's just doing a great job."

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Somehow, Merceruio (4-1), who "was a little nervous," and the Bulldogs won their 11th straight. She walked seven in the first four innings; her teammates committed three errors behind her. Yet the Bulldogs still led, 3-1. Then the Eagles (12-13) greeted her with three straight singles to start the fifth.

On the third of those hits, the Bulldogs' relay throw to the plate was well wide. But Hedgesville's Keri Conner did not go home on the play after missing a signal at third base, leaving the bases loaded with no outs.

It came back to haunt the Eagles after Laura Copenhaver's smash to shortstop Leslie Henry was snared and turned into a double play. It hurt even more when Jessica Shade grounded to second to end the inning.

"It was just like last night," Hedgesville coach Bill Anderson said. "I thought that was a big play, the ball by Catlett (a bases-loaded smash in the fourth that was caught) was a big play. Martinsburg was a little better on those."

Merceruio had a lot to do with that. She drove in the second run for the Bulldogs (22-7), then helped herself even more with a double to left that got another run home in the sixth. She scored on a single by Merika Taylor, her second RBI of the game.

It gave the 8-9 hitters in the Martinsburg lineup three hits and four RBIs - and helped the Bulldogs prove that it's better to get hits late than not at all.

"I was a little nervous, but I knew we'd come around," Merceruio said. "We usually don't start getting going until the end of the game anyway. And we came through."

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