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Rebels repel Smithsburg rally

May 18, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - South Hagerstown made it to the Class 1A West baseball final. Smithsburg made it anything but easy.

The Rebels watched the Leopards rally from a 4-0 deficit with a four-run sixth inning, then regrouped to keep Smithsburg from taking the lead before scoring the winning run in the top of the eighth for a 5-4 victory in the region semifinals Saturday at Williamsport.

"(Give) all the credit in the world to Smithsburg," South coach Ralph Stottlemyer said. "They came out and made us work for it."

"(It was a) valiant effort," Leopards coach Bill Fowkes said. "We faced adversity all year with injuries, and it's a tribute to these kids that they never quit."

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Rebels starter Jeremy McAfee controlled the game through five innings, holding Smithsburg to two hits and no runs and getting out of jams in the first and third innings.

South scored runs in each of the first three innings. Mike Campbell hit RBI singles to score David Miner in both the first and third, and Rob Peterson's RBI single in the second scored Ben Mertz, who reached on a three-base throwing error.

Mertz doubled off the fence in right center and scored on McAfee's RBI single in the top of the sixth for a 4-0 lead.

But after getting the first out in the bottom half, McAfee tired, giving up consecutive singles to Brandon Fisher, David Gouff and Brad Jennings to lose the shutout.

Wayne Rumbaugh reached on a fielding error that plated Gouff, and after a walk, Drew Crawford smacked a double to right center to score Jennings and Rumbaugh and tie the game.

"I probably went a little too long with Jay," Stottlemyer said. "You get a third and fourth look at him, you're gonna hit him, and that's my fault for not going out and getting him with Mertz standing out there (in center field)."

Stottelmyer called on Mertz once the game was tied, and Mertz got out of the sixth with a strikeout and groundout to first.

Mertz walked Ryan Marquiss to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but Fisher popped up a bunt attempt for the first out - the third popped up bunt attempt for Smithsburg in the game.

"At key points, we weren't able to get the bunts down," Fowkes said. "We just didn't execute in bunting situations ... and that kills you in close games."

Gouff singled to put runners on first and second, but Mertz got Jennings to ground into a fielder's choice to third, then struck out Rumbaugh to end the inning.

"He started at Northern (Garrett), and Jay came in and saved him in that one," Stottelmyer said of the Rebels' 10-7 first-round victory Wednesday. "It was the other way around (today)."

Josh Bussard singled off Leopards reliever Fisher to start the eighth, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Danny Lynn singled to bring Bussard home with the winning run.

"We definitely had to get a run up there," Stottelmyer said. "The wild pitch put our boy on third, when I was going to try to bunt him around. We had to manufacture a run one way or another."

Mertz sat down Smithsburg in order in the bottom half to get the win.

"Both teams had opportunities," Fowkes said. "They made the best of theirs."

South will host Southern Garrett in the regional final Monday at 4 p.m. The Rebels will throw Miner against the Rams' ace, Chris Smith.

"David will be ready, and I'm sure they'll have their boy Smith ready to go," Stottelmyer said.

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