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Clear Spring's Mills as good as 13-K gold

April 11, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

CLEAR SPRING - Clear Spring pitcher Adam Mills walked slowly off the mound after retiring the last Martinsburg batter.

The smile on his face could have been interpreted as one of satisfaction, but Mills will tell you it was one of relief.

Mills struck out 13 Bulldogs in one of the season's most dominant performances, beating Martinsburg 7-0 Thursday.

The Blazers' ace silenced the normally noisy Bulldogs lineup, limiting it to three hits to end Martinsburg's six-game winning streak and exorcise some demons of past performances.

No Bulldogs runner reached base until the fifth inning, when Jason Beard walked. But the inning ended quickly as the Blazers completed a 6-4-3 double play.

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Mills struck out Justin Jackson for the third out.

"Honestly, I can't say I was looking forward to this game today," Mills said. "I knew it was getting colder and the wind had picked up and I really don't have a great history since I've been a freshman against these guys."

But Mills spotted his fastball and had the Bulldogs chasing curveballs most of the afternoon. He struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced while his teammates pounded Bulldogs pitching for a dozen hits.

"I really felt my curve working today," Mills said. "I can't say it usually works this good. But my team gave me some confidence scoring runs when we had the chance."

Clear Spring jumped on Martinsburg starter Keith Holton for three runs in the first inning. Phil Saloom followed Andy Simmons' single with a double to right, and Mills then lined a two-run double down the third-base line.

Mills later came home on Josh Barnhart's clean single to right, and the Blazers never looked back.

"We never hit the ball better against Martinsburg than we hit it today," Clear Spring coach Jim Hutson said. "Keith Holton is a good pitcher and he did a nice job. But we hit the ball hard in those first few innings."

Kevin Mills laced a two-run double to the fence in the third with two outs, helping Clear Spring take all suspense out of the game.

"Mills is a great pitcher," Bulldogs coach Dennis Etherington said. "We knew we would see him. He threw well and stayed ahead of us all day. It is frustrating when you can't score because that is what we are used to doing."

Martinsburg threatened in the top of the sixth, as A.J. Roberts led off with a bloop single and went to second on a liner to left by Mark Richmond. A walk to Jared Spatero loaded the bases, but Mills coaxed Blaine Durst into an easy infield roller that ended the inning.

"Sometimes people ask me why we schedule some of these big schools," Hutson said. "We wanted to play well, especially against Martinsburg. When you play this well, it is worth it."

"We will battle back," Etherington said. "This one was a learning experience today. This team isn't use to playing from behind."

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