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Four-run seventh lifts Warriors to win

April 01, 2006|By CHRIS CARTER

BOONSBORO

Boonsboro senior Cam Shifler blasted two home runs, drove in four runs and scored the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday night against Clear Spring.

The surpise is that Shifler did all of those things while batting ninth in the Warriors' lineup - and he does it by choice.

"You tend to see better pitches in the 9 hole than in the top part of the lineup," Shifler said. "The pitcher is going to throw his better stuff to the guys he thinks can hit."

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Perhaps the Blazers' pitchers should have saved their best for last, as Shifler was clutch all afternoon and played a vital part in Boonsboro's 12-11 victory in the MVAL Antietam opener for both teams.

Shifler tied the game in the fourth and sixth innings, and those timely hits were contagious during the seventh inning, when the Warriors desperately needed a rally after a Clear Spring surge in the top of the inning.

Blazers freshman Jordan Thurber hit a two-run homer and Brian Shifflet added an RBI double in the top of the seventh to give Clear Spring an 11-8 lead, leaving the Blazers three outs from victory.

Those three outs did not come. The Blazers (2-1) loaded the bases for Boonsboro (2-1) with a walk and a pair of hit batters, the latter being Shifler. Matt Byers reached on an RBI infield single - his fourth hit of the game - and Matt Fortese follwed with a two-run single to left field that scored Ryan Alick and Shifler to tie the game at 11-11.

"All of our games have been like this," said Boonsboro coach Max Shaffer. "I told them, 'You're going to be dead if you keep playing in these close games.'"

Cody Poffenberger singled to reload the bases for cleanup hitter Jeremiah Mills, who was hitless in four previous plate appearances with two walks. He fared much better in his fifth at-bat, as his fly ball to left scored Byers from third to give the Warriors the victory.

"These guys have a lot of character. They won't quit," Shaffer said. "We've been down a lot this year, but we always come back."

Clear Spring pitchers yielded seven baserunners in the seventh inning without recording an out. Pitching woes also contributed to the Blazers squandering a 5-0 lead early in the game.

"We got behind in a lot of counts and that hurt us," said Clear Spring coach Mark Shives. "We just didn't pitch smart tonight."

The Blazers particularly struggled with Shifler and Byers, who combined to reach base nine times and score six runs. Shifler finished with three hits, while Byers homered and had four RBI. The senior duo picked up the slack left by the 2 through 5 hitters, who combined to go 3-for-16.

"I know that if I wasn't hitting someone else would step it up, and that's what we did tonight. We always cover for each other," Shifler said. "Some of us have been playing together for so long that it's like we're a brotherhood."

The Blazers will have to retool on the pitcher's mound, but the offense appeared to be in good shape, tallying 15 hits. Aaron Mills was a triple shy of the cycle and drove in three runs, while Shifflet doubled twice. Cody McCarthy had four singles and Thurber finished with three hits.

"If we hit the ball like we did tonight, we're going to win a lot of games. I was very happy with what we did on offense," Shives said. "No loss is a good loss, but there's definitely a different feeling here. Clear Spring teams in the past came to keep games like this close, but this team comes to win."

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