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Boonsboro's 'ride comes up one stop short

May 24, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

FREDERICK, Md. - Though Boonsboro's baseball season came to an end in Tuesday afternoon's Maryland Class 1A state semifinals at McCurdy Field, Warriors coach Max Shaffer kept things in perspective.

"The guys have to realize what they accomplished. It's an honor to get this far," Shaffer said after Boonsboro fell to Snow Hill, 6-4. "I just told them, 'Thanks for the ride.' The kids did a marvelous job."

The Warriors (16-6) had their chances against the Eagles (20-4) and played well overall, but they never got the key hit they needed after Snow Hill's five-run second inning for a 6-3 lead.

Snow Hill took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Andrew Riggin reached base despite striking out on Boonsboro starter Zac Shifler's curveball in the dirt that got past catcher Kyle Kane. He went to second on a passed ball and scored on Daniel Cropper's RBI double to the fence in right center.

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Boonsboro responded in the bottom half, greeting Cropper and his high-80s fastball rather rudely.

Matt Fortese, Jeremiah Mills and Kane each singled, with Kane driving in a run, before Cam Shifler doubled to the fence in left for two RBI and a 3-1 lead.

"We hit (Cropper) good early, and then he changed it up and went to his curve, and we couldn't get nothing out of that," Shaffer said.

The Eagles tagged Zac Shifler hard in the second. Shifler walked leadoff hitter Tanner Drennan before allowing a one-out RBI double to Joey Figgs and a single to Steve Benvenuto before Riggin drove in the tying run on a groundout to make it 3-3.

With two outs, Cropper singled up the middle to break the tie, and Kenton Moyer followed with a two-run homer into the bleachers in center to make it 6-3.

The Warriors stranded two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second after Jared Ferguson and Matt Byers each singled.

They got a run in the third when the first three hitters reached - Mills and Kane each singled and Cam Shifler doubled down the left-field line to score Mills and make it 6-4 - but Cropper struck out the next three to strand two more in scoring position.

"We had (runners on) second and third with no outs, and I thought we'd get a run there," Shaffer said. "You can't take anything away from them, they played well."

After that, Cropper was unhittable, backing up his fastball with a hard-breaking curve to baffle the Warriors.

Mills led off the fifth with a walk but Cropper retired the next three hitters in order.

In the seventh, Fortese led off with a grounder that got through Meyer at third for an error, but Cropper shut the door again, getting a fielder's choice groundout and striking out two to end the game.

Cropper's performance made the stellar pitching efforts of Zac Shifler and reliever Chris Selby from the third inning on a moot point. Shifler struck out four in his final two innings of work, and Selby, a sophomore, retired all nine batters he faced, striking out four.

"Usually, you give a senior the ball, and here comes a sophomore and he shuts them down," Shaffer said. "We didn't get the key hits like we usually get."

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