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Leopards pick their spots in eighth to knock wind out of Gaels

March 30, 2004|by CHRIS CARTER

The Smithsburg and St. Maria Goretti baseball teams had little problem getting runners on base.

Getting them across the plate was another thing all together.

Smithsburg left 11 runners on base and Goretti stranded 13 more Monday, prolonging the Leopards' 6-4 victory to eight innings.

"A close game like this is a real confidence booster, especially early in the season," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "Hopefully it will help us gain momentum before we begin (MVAL Antietam) conference play."

Runners were abundant, thanks to a number of errors and misplayed balls for hits. In the end, Smithsburg (3-1) made fewer mistakes and a few more plays than the Gaels (2-3).

The Leopards loaded the bases to open the eighth before shortstop T.J. Bowser pulled a ground ball down the third-base line. Goretti's Sean Engle bobbled the potential third out, allowing Smithsburg to take a 5-4 lead. Nate Steelman drew a walk to score the insurance run.

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"There's no question we have to play better than we did today," said Gaels coach Mike Brashears. "I think that for the most part it was a lack of concentration. You can't make some of those kind of mistakes and still expect to win."

Steelman got the win for Smithsburg with 2 2/3 innings of relief, allowing one unearned run while striking out five. Goretti loaded the bases in the fifth and seventh innings against Steelman, but he pitched his way out of both of the jams after only minimal damage.

"Nate is our top pitcher and he came through very well when we needed him most," Fowkes said. "Zach (Lloyd) gave us some good innings early in the game and that allowed Nate to come in fresh and do his job."

Smithsburg took an early 1-0 advantage when Gerry Spessard singled in Bowser in the first inning.

Goretti answered in the third when Mason Herman singled to right field, scoring Paul Angello and Chris Dorsey for a 2-1 lead.

The lead was short-lived though, as the Gaels relinquinshed the lead in the next inning when Chad Rupert's run-scoring single tied the game.

Smithsburg jumped back on top when Josh Daniels belted a solo home run to left-center field. But the Gaels responded with the tying run off Steelman in the fifth.

Goretti couldn't muster a rally in the extra inning, going down in order in the eighth.

Lloyd pitched into the fourth inning for Smithsburg, allowing three runs while striking out four for no decision. Rupert and Daniels each had two hits.

Engle started the game for Goretti, going 5 2/3 innings while striking out nine. Herman and Kevin Brashears each had two hits.

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