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Leopards win with little bang

March 25, 2006|By BOB PARASILITI

HANCOCK

So much for the Big Bang Theory.

In baseball, the collision of bats and balls produces a universe of scoring. The ultimate result is a home run, but ...

"Baseball is funny," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "Sometimes you hit the ball hard and you don't have anything to show for it. Today, we didn't hit the ball hard and we got five runs."

And that was only the start of it for the Leopards on Friday. Smithsburg used five first-inning runs - with the benefit of two infield hits - as the starting point to a 14-1 victory in six innings against a youthful Hancock team.

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Early on, it wasn't a case of the Leopards hitting the ball hard as much as it was hardly hitting.

Hancock committed four errors in the first inning while freshman Lucas Trunkle struggled to find his comfort zone in his first career start. Throw in three walks and a hit batter and it became a recipe for destruction for the Panthers.

"I think we weren't aggressive enough early," Hancock coach Brian Kerns said. "We didn't go after the ball. We're not good enough to spot them five runs. We are really young."

Smithsburg (1-1) started early and put Hancock in a vise with aggressive base running.

After Josh Conway led off the game by reaching on third baseman Chris Hoffman's fielding error, Matt Shriver set the tone for the rest of the game.

Trunkle, who had trouble finding his release point, came with a high, inside pitch that Shriver reached up and put on the ground for a sacrifice bunt. Conway was running on the play and moved all the way to third on the roller back to the mound.

"We talk about that all the time," Fowkes said. "We try to move runners from first to third on bunts. We want to keep the pressure up. We put the pressure on, and with Hancock being so young, they buckled a little."

Josh Humelsine and Bob Smith each drove in runs with infield singles as Smithsburg built the 5-0 lead.

It made starting pitcher Kevin Kocsis' job all the easier when it came to his turn to take the mound. With the early five-run lead, Kocsis was able to come at the Panthers' batting order, which was swinging at the first good pitch it saw to try and get back in the game.

Kocsis struck out the side in the first and pitched four perfect innings while the Leopards moved to a 10-0 lead. The no-hitter and shutout were eliminated in the fifth as Hancock's Steve Mower led off with a triple to dead center field and scored on Josh Finney's one-out grounder to short.

It was the only hit Kocsis allowed in the six-inning victory, striking out seven without allowing a walk.

"Kevin is a sophomore and has a good live arm," Fowkes said. "We are counting on him to pitch a lot of big games for us. He got ahead in the count. He was a little overpowering today, but he had them looking for the breaking ball."

Smithsburg added two runs in each of the second and third innings to move to a 9-0 lead. Josh Bodine clubbed an RBI double down the right field line in the second and Kevin Tyler skied a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

The Leopards put the game away with four runs in the sixth as Tim Peake led off with a double to left center to start the rally. Smithsburg benefited when Mower, who relieved Trunkle in the fourth, began to tire and started issuing walks. Conway hit a sacrifice fly and Tyler singled to drive in runs.

Smithsburg finished with 11 hits, led by Tyler, Humelsine and Bodine with two each.

"Their pressure definitely hurt us," Kerns said. "We are very young and inexperienced and we don't have the numbers, but that is no excuse. We spotted them five runs, but you have to give them credit. They took advantage of what we gave them."

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