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Daniels gives Clear Spring the hook

April 02, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - Since the date was April 1, it was fitting Josh Daniels decided to fool the Clear Spring baseball team a little.

Smithsburg's starting pitcher had Blazers batters swaying back and forth like willow trees in the spring breeze on Friday with a curveball that uprooted hitters.

It added up to a complete-game performance with 12 strikeouts as Smithsburg notched a 4-3 MVAL Antietam victory over Clear Spring, which fell a clutch hit short of pulling out a victory.

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"(Daniels) stayed within himself and didn't get rattled," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "That's what a senior should do, especially in that last inning."

Smithsburg set up Daniels with a working margin when Zach Lloyd launched a three-run home run to center field in the third off Clear Spring starter Andrew Blickenstaff. From there, Daniels locked into a pitching battle with Clear Spring reliever Scott Keeney and had just enough to get the win for the Leopards.

"(Daniels) got stronger as the game went on," Clear Spring coach Mark Shives said. "He had us off balance with his curveball, but he did a nice job with his pitch selection."

With Keeney driving in all three Clear Spring runs, the Blazers were poised to take a walk-off victory. Tyler Shifflet and John Mason each drew one-out walks, putting the tying and winning runs on for Keeney.

Keeney hit into a fielder's choice to put runners on first and third for Blickenstaff, the cleanup hitter. Keeney stole second to put both runners in scoring position, but Daniels got Blickenstaff to swing through a 2-2 fastball to end the game.

"I thought about taking him out at the end, but he was the best guy we had in that situation," Fowkes said. "He showed the leadership a senior is supposed to have. He worked real well and Lloyd got that big hit."

Lloyd's "big hit" was the only one of the game for the Leopards. Smithsburg made the most out of five walks, three of Clear Spring's five errors and a combination of stolen bases and passed balls to snag the lead.

After Keeney's RBI double to center gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead after one inning, Smithsburg tied the game in the second on a pair of walks and a throwing error by catcher Tyler Braithwaite on Corey Monroe's steal attempt.

The Leopards made the move for the lead in the third when Kevin Tyler reached on Blickenstaff's throwing error. Joe Acre drew a one-out walk before Lloyd put a charge into a belt-high pitch to send it over the center-field fence.

Keeney came on and shut down Smithsburg the rest of the way with 4 2/3 innings of hitless relief while walking two and striking out five.

Clear Spring made the push to get back into the game in the fifth when Braithwaite and Shifflet singled and Mason walked to load the bases with one out for Keeney. Keeney responded with a two-run single to center, but Daniels worked out of the jam, leaving the tying and go-ahead runs stranded in scoring position.

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