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Powell's slam powers Rebels to 6-1 win

April 15, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

It might be the first time - and the last time - that South Hagerstown first baseman Phil Powell didn't want to emulate teammate Aaron Showe.

Powell, a sophomore making his second start of the season Friday against No. 10 Brunswick, watched the senior catcher run off the field in frustration at the end of the second inning after grounding out with the bases loaded.

So when Powell was presented with his own sacks-full opportunity in the next frame, he did his own thing: launching a two-strike grand slam as the Rebels moved closer to the top of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League standings with a 6-1 victory.

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"I just didn't want to do the same thing Aaron did," said Powell, who hit a long ball to right field in the second inning that was knocked down by the wind. "I thought I got the first one pretty good, but the wind got it. But that second one I got, too."

With one out and a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, Powell had fouled off a pair of fastballs from Brunswick starter Justin Tucker, but another hanging curveball from the Railroaders' sidearm pitcher cost him dearly.

"(Catcher Matt Feldman) said his breaking balls were floating," Brunswick coach Roger Dawson said. "He had good pop on the fastball, but the 0-1, 0-2 curveballs, they weren't as sharp as they had to be today."

Reliever Woody Conner allowed just two hits to the Rebels (3-2, 2-1) the rest of the way, but the damage had been done, as the Railroaders couldn't finish off any rally against South starter Ben Mertz.

Brunswick (4-4, 3-3) had no problems getting runners on base - it had eight hits and drew four walks - but couldn't do anything once they were there. Mertz constantly had Brunswick leaning on pitches and finished with nine pop-ups on the infield for outs on a blustery day when groundouts seemed to be the ticket for success.

"Ben's gonna make you hit the ball," said South coach Greg Eversole, who later said with a grin that Mertz really is a ground-ball pitcher. "It's going to go over the plate, but it's almost never in the same place. It'll move every time."

He had it moving just enough late. Brunswick loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Mertz got a strikeout to end that threat. It reloaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Eversole pulled Mertz for David Miner, and the sophomore got a strikeout and a fly to left to end the game.

"We're doing the hings we're practicing," Eversole said. "They're responding to the changes we as coaches want them to make, and they're accepting what has to be done to win. This is how I like to play baseball."

South Hagerstown 6

No. 10 Brunswick 1

Brunswick 0001000-182

South 204000x-692

Tucker, Conner (3) and Feldman. Mertz, Miner (7) and Showe. WP-Mertz (1-0). LP-Tucker (0-3). S-Miner (1). HR-SH: Powell (3rd, three on).

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