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Commitment pays off as Indians beat Panthers

April 27, 2000|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - Southern Fulton baseball coach Brian Kerns has been somewhat happy with the commitment of his players for the last half dozen games or so.

He's been happy with their focus, their desire, their honest-to-goodness, flat-out ability to do whatever it takes to win baseball games.

He was happy Wednesday, too, when Rodney Swope drove a low fastball deep over the center field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Indians beat Hancock, 3-2.

"We had a terrible beginning to the season, but lately, we find ways to win or at least stay in these things," Kerns said. "We certainly didn't give up."

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Swope's game-winning shot spoiled an otherwise impressive outing by Hancock junior hurler Justin Moore, who gave up only one earned run - the homer by Swope - while striking out nine. Moore's curve ball gave the Indians fits, but errors continued to haunt the Panthers' efforts to notch their second win.

"I'll tell you, those things happen to you when you are not winning games," Hancock coach Dan Kerns said. "When things are going your way, you find a way to win those close ones. I give Brian (Dan's son) and his team all the credit. They found a way to win."

Indian pitcher Dustin Hixon threw a masterful game of his own, scattering five Hancock hits. He struck out 11 while recovering nicely from a towering home run to deep right in the top of the fourth by Hancock's Chris Dobrzanski. Dobrzanki's blast brought Hancock to within 2-1 and came on the heels of two economy runs scored by Southern Fulton (4-8).

In the Indians first, Hixon reached on a fielder's choice, stole second, used a passed ball to get third and came home on an infield error by the Panthers.

Southern Fulton struck again in the bottom of the third with two outs as Swope doubled to left and came home on a missed fly ball.

"We took advantage of the opportunities we were given," Brian Kerns said. "We were finding a way to win, but you know, those things can change in a hurry."

And they almost did as the Panthers (1-11) stole a page from that game plan. In the top of the sixth, Moore walked, stole second and scored on a two-base overthrow by the Indians.

From there, both pitchers settled down until Swope's game winner.

"It was definitely my pitch, low and away." Swope said. "I feel like we are playing better as a team. We are hitting better, at least."

"I can tell you that in the situation we were in, I would want Rodney at the plate," Kerns said. "He is our most patient hitter, and today it certainly paid."

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