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Smithsburg knocks off No. 5 Lions

May 01, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

bobp@herald-mail.com

WALKERSVILLE, Md. - The message out of the Smithsburg dugout turned into the Leopards' motto.

The message was "You never know. ... You never know." Question is, how could the Leopards have known?

Smithsburg's offense had three balls land in the outfield - two on errant throws by No. 5 Walkersville - resulting in three unearned runs Monday to lead the Leopards to a gritty and crucial 3-1 Monocacy Valley Athletic Legaue victory.

"It was an old-fashioned baseball game," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "We only had two hits but we took advantage of their mistakes."

The old-fashioned flavor was provided by a pair of left-handed pitchers - Smithsburg's Nick Vierra and Walkersville's Mike Mullinix. Vierra outdueled Mullinix by fashioning a three-hitter with only two strikeouts to outmatch Mullinix's eight-strikeout performance.

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Vierra went out of character to go 4-0, switching his style of pitching to make up for some near misses with his top pitch.

"I had to change my style," Vierra said. "I'm a curveball pitcher and I had to go with a lot more fastballs. I was giving them pitches to hit and allowing my defense to do the work behind me. I'm not a strikeout pitcher."

But Vierra had Walkersville's batters out on their front foot and leaning the entire game, keeping the Lions from driving the ball. He had only two strikeouts and got nine of the 21 outs on flyballs.

"Their pitcher did a nice job keeping us off balance," Walkersville coach Dorsey Gilbert said. "They made the plays behind him. When I look at the book, I'll see a 0-0 game. We had nine flyouts. You hit fly balls and your not challenging their defense. All they have to do is catch it. If you get the ball on the ground, they have to do three things right to make the play."

Walkersville failed to make the play in the third, costing the Lions a run. After Smithsburg's Brent Myers walked, Adam Dick laid down a sacrifice bunt. First baseman Alex Dub tried to throw behind Myers at second after the putout and fired the ball into the outfield, allowing the run to score.

The Lions (11-4, 8-4) got the run back in the third, starting with none on and two out. Ray Dorsey walked and stole second as Dick's throw popped out of Drew Crawford's glove. Pete Genovese followed with a single to tie the game.

Smithsburg (8-5, 8-5) used another break to get the go-ahead runs. Jeff Mills grounded back to the mound with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. Mullinix threw home for the force but catcher Dorsey tried for the double play at first and threw the ball into right field to allow two runs to score.

"It was great," Vierra said. "It was so much relief to be able to pitch with a 3-1 lead. It allowed me to work more with the batters and I was able to keep the ball down more."

Smithsburg only managed an infield hit by David Gouff in the sixth and a single to center by Dick in the seventh.

"Both teams had to manufacture runs," Fowkes said. "Both teams had to use sacrifice bunts to move runners over. The pitchers threw well, but Vierra was throwing strikes and allowing the team to make the plays."

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