Smoot makes his pitch ... twice

May 20, 1999|By MARK KELLER

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Most pitchers have to wait until their next start to make up for a rough outing.

Not Jefferson's Eric Smoot. He got to try again after just three innings.

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Smoot, ineffective on his first eight pitches, took the mound again in the fourth inning and held down Martinsburg as the Cougars clinched their 14th Class AAA Region II Section 1 title Thursday with an 11-7 win over the Bulldogs.

"I told him between innings to keep his mind in the game, because he was eligible to come back in," said Jefferson coach John Lowery. "We've done things like that before, take a guy out and bring him back in. It just so happened that he wasn't ready early ... he certainly did a nice job when he came back in for a couple of innings."

Those first eight pitches, however, could hardly be called nice. Smoot hit C.J. Gainey with the first pitch of the game, then walked James Painter on four straight.


Lowery took a trip to the mound to speak with Smoot, who responded by throwing three straight out of the strike zone to Mike Quinn. That was enough for Lowery, who brought in Steven Christman and moved Smoot to shortstop.

Christman got Quinn to fly out, but Warren Brown sliced a shot over the left-field fence to give the Bulldogs (10-17) a 3-0 lead.

"Smoot was a little off in the first inning. We got three runs, but he helped us as well," said Martinsburg coach Dennis Etherington.

But Jefferson (28-4) got the runs right back in the bottom of the inning off Brown, who was pitching his third game in seven days. Josh Green and Josh Cenate singled before Brown issued three straight walks to bring in two runs. Mike Moulton drove in the third with a fielder's choice.

The Cougars added two runs in the second on two more walks by Brown and three Martinsburg errors for a 5-3 lead.

Gainey singled and scored on Painter's triple, and Painter came in on a groundout to tie the score at 5-5.

But Jefferson again had an answer, getting three in the bottom of the frame for an 8-5 lead.

"They're the type of team that can come back like that," Etherington said. "You have to continuously score against those guys. You can't score enough runs against them."

Green had three hits and Justin Osbourn added two for Jefferson, who will play the winner of today's Keyser-Musselman game in the Region II championship series beginning Tuesday.

Kevin Clark had three hits and Painter had two for Martinsburg.

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