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Wildcats do all they need to top Hubs

April 26, 2007|by JOHN O'BRIEN / Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Getting the clutch hit and the big outs Wednesday thrilled Williamsport coach Larnie Vickers.

Being the team it happened against didn't sit too well with North Hagerstown.

Nick Bodner's tiebreaking, two-run single in the sixth set the stage for Travis Sluger's pitching debut. He responded by striking out the side in the seventh despite loading the bases in a 4-2 win over the Hubs in an MVAL Antietam game.

"We haven't been able to get the big hit the last six games," said North coach Shawn Reynolds, whose team has lost six straight. "We just don't have any confidence in ourselves.

"Baseball's a funny game - things come in streaks. Once we get the big hit to come, we might get on one of those streaks. We can't right now, though."

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Tommy Evans, Mike Twigg and Mark Dattilio all reached base in the seventh for North (5-7, 3-6) against Sluger, who was brought in for his first action because starter Andy Dagenhart's pitch count had reached 111.

With the bases loaded, Sluger struck out Cody Nelling on a 1-2 curveball, then finished off Cadyn Robinson in the same fashion. Sluger had previously struck out No. 3 hitter Macellus Sumlin, caught looking at a full-count pitch with two on.

"They threw strikes when they had to throw strikes and their fielders made playrs when they had to make plays," Reynolds said.

Sluger's performance gives the Wildcats (8-5, 5-4) another arm for the final stretch.

"His curveball was breaking really decent," Vickers said. "And his fastball, once he started hitting his spots, it had some velocity on it, which is always nice to bring out of the bullpen."

It made a winner out of Dagenhart for his third straight start. He pitched six innings, yielding four hits and four walks while striking out five and allowing two earned runs.

Bodner's two-run single off reliever Steven Younker in the sixth secured the win for Dagenhart. Yonker's hit capped a rally started when Timothy McCartney walked and Andrew Duff doubled off the top of the left-field fence.

"It's always nice to get the hit when you need it most," Vickers said. "There's nothing more frustrating than getting runners on that you can't get in."

Mike Twigg singled to drive in Tyler Fairley, who had walked and stole second base, in the third for a 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats tied it in the fourth off Sumlin. McCartney singled home Aaron Hershberger, who led off the inning with a double and took third on Dagenhart's infield single.

In the fifth, A.J. Jamison stroked another leadoff double and eventually scored on Sluger's sacrifice fly to greet Younker, who replaced Sumlin.

North tied the game in the sixth when Cody Nelling singled, took second on Robinson's walk and went to third when Jamison's pickoff attempt from behind the plate went into center field. Younker drove in the run on a grounder to first that Sluger elected to tag the bag for the sure out before throwing home.

The hesitation allowed Nelling to slide in safely ahead of the tag.

Then it was time for Sluger to answer the pitching call.

"He was throwing pretty good (Tuesday night) off the mound, so we figured we'd give him a shot," Vickers said. "He kept battling and got the job done."

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