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Bulldogs pound Vikings

April 30, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - That the Martinsburg baseball team would improve to .500 was never really in doubt Tuesday night under the lights at P.O. Faulkner Park, as the Bulldogs breezed to a 13-3 win over No. 9 St. John's at Prospect Hall to improve to 11-11.

The only question was when the Martinsburg fans could finally go home.

Trailing 11-0 and down to their final strike in the top of the fifth inning, the Vikings (8-7) prolonged the 10-run mercy-rule ending with an improbable three-run rally.

With runners on second and third and two outs, Bulldogs starting pitcher Aaron Stokes fanned Hugh Wescott swinging for his third strikeout of the inning and fifth of the game. But the ball got away from catcher Jared Spataro, much as it did from first baseman Jeff Horst on the ensuing throw.

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Wescott pulled in safely at first and Brendan Gilligan and Tom Piontek scored as the Vikings made it 11-2. Jeremy Hess then singled to center, advancing Wescott to third. The Bulldogs finally secured the third out, chasing down Hess in a run-down as he tried to steal second, but not before Wescott crossed the plate to make it 11-3.

"It was frustrating, but nobody's perfect," said Stokes (2-2), who didn't allow a runner past first until the fifth. "You just have to come back and get them. It's a team effort."

Martinsburg seized the opportunity to pad its offensive stats. Keith Holten led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to center and A.J. Roberts followed with an RBI triple to right-center. Horst then plated Roberts with an RBI groundout to make it 13-3, ending the game.

"We've been in a slump as a team," Stokes said, "and we came back today and boosted our confidence and got back to .500."

The Bulldogs, who scored in every inning, finished with 12 hits.

"The key to this game was hitting," said Justin Jackson, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of extra-base hits and three RBI to pace Martinsburg. "People were on the bases, and we had to get them in."

The Bulldogs jumped on starter Wescott (2-2), the first of three Vikings pitchers, for four runs in first. Holten and Jackson delivered the key blows with a pair of two-run doubles.

The hosts made it 5-0 in the second on Horst's RBI single and extended it to 7-0 in the third as Mark Richmond tripled and scored on a wild pitch and Spataro ripped an RBI single up the middle.

Martinsburg scored four more in the fourth, highlighted by Jackson's RBI triple and RBI singles from Taylor Ramsey and Brandon Armentrout.

Armentrout, Spataro and Holten each finished with two hits, while Holten had three runs and Roberts, Richmond and Brandon Wagoner each had two.

Gilligan led off the top of the fifth with a pinch-hit double for the Vikings' only extra-base hit, while Hess had two of their five hits.

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