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Ricketts' rockets rack up Rebels' rousing win

April 26, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

Not everyone failed to get a clutch hit on a chilly Wednesday afternoon as South Hagerstown and Smithsburg combined to leave 21 runners stranded on base.

Zeke Ricketts wasn't wearing a brown uniform, but he delivered on time twice with a pair of two-run home runs to help lift No. 2 South Hagerstown to a 6-3 victory over feisty Smithsburg in an MVAL Antietam clash to keep the Rebels unbeaten in the league.

"The first was on a hanging curve and the second was on a fastball," said Ricketts, who hit a pair of homers against Smithsburg last season. "I just tried to get relaxed at the plate. It feels great to help our team win a game like this and keep us going."

Smithsburg (4-9, 2-7) drew first blood in the top of the first off South starter Kenneth Feigley on singles by Matt Shriver and Josh Conway, a fielder's choice and a South throwing error for a 2-0 lead.

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South answered in the bottom half. Tim Leather drew a two-out walk off Smithsburg starter Jared Daniels before trotting home on Ricketts' first homer, a 330-foot shot to left, to forge a 2-2 tie.

After South (11-1, 9-0) left the first two of its 12 men stranded in the second, Leather singled in the third and scored again when Ricketts launched a Daniels pitch well over 360 feet to left-center.

The Leopards came back in the fifth when Conway doubled and scored on Josh Bodine's single off South's Brock Jamison to make it 4-3. Brandon Knight doubled Bodine to third, but Jamison was able to get out of further trouble.

Smithsburg got back-to-back singles off South closer Spencer Cromer to open the sixth inning before the defensive play of the game helped the Rebels' cause.

Shriver hit a slow roller to third. Leather charged, fielded the ball cleanly and threw to Ricketts at first, who made a clean pick of the one-hopper that could easily have ended up down the line.

"That was the play of the game and the whole turning point," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes."If the first baseman doesn't make that play, we score two runs."

Conway was issued an intentional walk to load the bases, but Cromer ended the threat by striking out the next two batters.

South added two runs in the sixth, highlighted by a Leather single.

Cromer struck out the side in the seventh to record a school record sixth save for the season while preserving Jamison's fifth win off three innings of relief work.

"We left 13 men on base in our last game against Clear Spring and again today we just couldn't get a clutch hit," said South coach Ralph Stottlemyer. "Everyone was trying to jack the ball out against (Daniels) and we just don't hit off-speed pitching."

Fowkes echoed the same sentiments about his team, which was guilty of leaving nine on base.

"We've been playing well and getting hits, but just not in the clutch," said Fowkes. "We could be 9-4 with some clutch hitting."

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