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Fisher makes Leopards pay the price

March 31, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

North Hagerstown baseball coach Shawn Reynolds had a hunch about playing junior Colby Fisher.

Hubs starting pitcher Marcellus Sumlin was glad his coach played it, giving Fisher the surprise start at third base on Friday afternoon.

Fisher made the most of his opportunity by providing the only offense of the day - a booming two-run home run in the fourth inning to give the Hubs a 2-0 victory over Smithsburg in the MVAL Antietam opener at North.

Other than making a relief appearance earlier this season, it was Fisher's first-ever varsity experience.

"I had a gut feeling about playing (Fisher) to get an extra stick in," said Reynolds, who put Mark Datillio in the outfield to make room for Fisher. "We told him that he was going to start while Smithsburg was taking infield practice."

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Fisher jumped on a fastball offering from Smithsburg lefty Travis Hayes, who had started the fourth inning in relief of Jake Staebler. With one out, Tyler Hornbecker reached on an infield hit to deep short that led to Fisher's blast that carried about 340 feet.

"(Starting) was a big surprise but you gotta' start somewhere," said Fisher, who also walked twice. "I got a fastball on the inside part of the plate."

It was fortunate because it didn't waste the performance by Sumlin, especially after North (3-1, 1-0) missed an opportunity in the first inning.

Staebler walked the bases full but struck out Cadyn Robinson to end the threat.

Smithsburg (0-2, 0-1) had scoring threats in the first two innings.

After leaving two on base in the first, Smithsburg's Steve Hines doubled to the fence in left center that moved Brock Kettoman to third with one out.

But Ben Walzl missed the pitch on a suicide squeeze attempt and Kettoman was tagged out at home. Walzl ended the threat with a pop out to first.

"We were one pitch away from scoring in each of those innings, but our bats will come around," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes.

From the third inning on, Sumlin was near perfect. He need only 72 pitches for the complete game and struck out three.

He allowed only two more singles to finish with a nifty five-hitter without allowing a walk.

"I felt good and was throwing strikes and keeping the ball down in the zone," said Sumlin, picking up his first win. "I just wanted to throw strikes. The defense was great behind me."

Sumlin forced Smithsburg to hit the ball on the ground, with the exception of Walzl's popup and a pair of fly ball outs to end the game.

"He doesn't overpower anyone but he can pitch by changing location and he kept ahead of the batter," said Reynolds. "When he keeps the ball down, he knows he can be tough."

"I told our guys we just saw one of (North's) best," said Fowkes.

After allowing the homer, Hayes settled down and allowed two hits in three innings. Staebler walked five in his three innings, working on a 60-pitch limit in his first start after recovering from an arm injury that sidelined him last year.

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