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Blazers stay hot as Hubs keep falling

May 02, 2006|By TIM KOELBLE

It was ecstasy for Clear Spring. It was agony for North Hagerstown. There is no other quick description for Monday's fifth inning.

Clear Spring batted for 40 minutes and nearly went around the order twice, sending 17 to the plate. By the time the third out was recorded, the Blazers had tallied 11 runs on five hits, two walks, two hit batsmen and ? most crucially ? six North Hagerstown errors.

The big inning came immediately on the heels of the Hubs' five-run fourth inning as North took a 7-2 lead. In the end, it was Clear Spring (10-4, 6-4) keeping its winning streak alive, making it five straight with a 14-8 MVAL Antietam verdict over the Hubs, who lost for the fifth straight time.

"We're down after the fourth inning, but we've been scoring double-digit runs and our seniors are leaders and know what they have to do," said Clear Spring coach Mark Shives. "We've been a good hitting team and sometimes if you win ugly, that's fine, too."

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A two-run single by Marcellus Sumlin, a two-run triple by Kent Worthington and a run-scoring single by Mark Dattilio knocked Clear Spring's Corey Baker out of the game in the bottom of the fourth.

However, the Blazers were about to wake up, with North doing nothing to turn off the alarm.

Hubs sophomore Cody Nelling made his first start and allowed only two runs through four innings before everything unraveled.

Adam Mills led off the fifth with a single, Billy Bucklew reached on the first of three errors by Worthington and Scott Keeney sliced the deficit to 7-5 when he crunched a drive over the 390-foot mark for a home run in his third consecutive game.

"I was just looking to drive the ball and keep getting some baserunners," said Keeney.

Nelling got two outs ? hitting Danny Reed with a pitch in between ? before the full frolic started.

Reed scored when Freddie Kreiger made two errors on Jordan Thurber's hit, and Thurber later scored on a single by Cody McCarthy to tie the game at 7-7.

Carl Spessard relieved Nelling and was charged with five runs on one hit with a hit batsman and two more critical errors behind him before Cadyn Robinson came in to get the final out.

"Me, my coaches, we're just all dumbfounded to what happened in that inning," said North coach Shawn Reynolds. "You can't give a team nine outs in an inning. I wish I knew the answer."

North (8-9, 5-7) managed only one run off lefty Andrew Blickenstaff, who struck out five and walked none in 3 1/3 innings of relief, his second straight solid relief appearance.

"(Baker) pitched well but he's on a pitch count limit and reached it," said Shives. "(Andrew) had great velocity and went after people."

"I just went out and tried to hit corners and let my fastball run away from the right-handed batters," said Blickenstaff.

Shives said Keeney's home run was critical and probably the turning point. The home run pumped life right back into the Blazers.

"(Scott) really hasn't been getting many pitches to hit lately with a diet of curves," said Shives.

Baker also homered for the Blazers in the second inning, a two-run shot with Brian Shifflet aboard that gave Clear Spring a 2-1 lead.

Mills led Clear Spring's 12-hit attack with four singles. Keeney, Thurber and McCarthy each had two hits. Sumlin and Dattilio each had two hits for North.

"We were still sitting pretty good at 4:30 today (game time was 4:45) and we were tied for third in the (Class 2A West) region," said Reynolds. "But the last two games have been errors and one big inning. We're dumbfounded."

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