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Bodine sends Smithsburg fans home with a smile

May 12, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER

SMITHSBURG - In a matter of moments, Josh Bodine changed the mood of the Smithsburg players, coaches and fans Friday night.

After a close call ruled Josh Conway out at second base and drew jeers from the Leopards' faithful, Bodine gave them a reason to smile with a walk-off two-run home run to lift the Leopards to a 7-6 win over Catoctin in the first round of the Maryland Class 1A West baseball playoffs.

The Leopards (9-12) advance to the region quarterfinals to play Boonsboro on Monday.

"Playoff game, hitting the game-winning home run. Yeah, it's probably my biggest hit," Bodine said.

The Leopards senior took three pitches before sending a fastball from Catoctin reliever Justin Albright over the fence in right-center field.

"Coach (Bill Fowkes) told us to take the first strike and make (Albright) pitch to us," Bodine said. "I was thinking fastball the whole time."

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Smithsburg had every reason to be down after Catoctin's Mitch Althoff homered in the top of the seventh to break a tie and give the Cougars (9-11) a 6-4 lead. Instead, the Leopards reeled off four straight hits against Albright - capped by Bodine's bomb.

"(Catoctin) came up with the two-run home run and it could have been lights out for us," Fowkes said. "But Matt Shriver hustled out an infield single, we got a couple of hits. Then Josh Bodine did what seniors do."

Shriver's infield hit led off the bottom of the seventh and winning pitcher Kevin Kocsis followed with a bloop single to left field to put runners on the corners. Conway grounded a single through the infield to score Shriver, cut the deficit to 6-5 and keep runners on first and third - still with no outs.

Conway was caught stealing on the third pitch of Bodine's at-bat, and Fowkes charged the field to argue the call. But Fowkes could have saved his breath had he known what Bodine had in store for the Cougars.

"That's baseball, you have the ups and you have the downs," Fowkes said.

Catoctin led three times in the game, the first when Adam Cordell led off the third inning with a home run. Kyle Sanders added a run-scoring single to put the Cougars ahead 2-0.

Smithsburg answered with doubles by Kevin Tyler and Conway in the bottom of the frame and a wild pitch helped the Leopards knot the score at 2-2.

The Cougars regained the lead when Zach Little doubled and scored on a single by Cordell for a 3-2 edge.

The Leopards took their first lead in the fifth when Shriver reached on an error and Conway smacked his second RBI double. Bodine added a run-scoring single to give Smithsburg a 4-3 lead.

Kyle Beard scored in the sixth inning to pull the Cougars even at 4-4, leading Fowkes to substitute Kocsis for Tyler on the mound. Kocsis inherited two runners, but he stranded both in scoring position.

"It was just a tremendous baseball game played by both teams," Fowkes said. "They would get a lead and we'd come right back. Just a good game."

The Smithsburg softball team suffered from one dreadful inning as it fell to Westmar, 7-4, also in 1A West first-round action. The Wildcats (11-6) will be looking for their sixth straight win when they take on Brunswick in the region quarterfinals Monday.

"We have a bad inning that does us in," said Smithsburg coach Brian Getz. "That's been the story this season."

Smithsburg (3-16) made four errors Friday and misjudged a few other outfield hits to help Westmar get started. Trailing 1-0, Chasity Bittinger lined to Leopards right fielder Tiffany Souders to lead off the fourth inning. Souders took a step in before retreating and the ball flew over her head to put Bittinger on third with a triple. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Holly Williams.

Westmar added to the lead in the fifth by turning four hits, two walks and an error into six runs to up the lead to 7-1. The Leopards botched a fielder's choice that likely would have cut the damage in half.

"We're young, but we just make too mistakes in the field," Getz said. "We've made 86 errors this season."

Starting pitcher Bethany Garnand was otherwise solid for the Leopards. She scattered five other hits and struck out 13 to up her season total to 199. She struck out the side twice.

The Leopards finally got to Wildcats pitcher Keri Bean in the sixth inning. Consecutive hits by Emily Bolton, Becky Rishell and Garnand loaded the bases with no outs and a fielder's choice by Souders pulled the score to 7-2. A walk loaded the bases once again and an infield error cut the gap to 7-3. Kaitlyn Miller added an RBI single, but Stevey Markovich - who reached on a walk - was thrown out at home after hesitating on the third-base turn.

"I waved (Markovich) around and I was telling (Miller) to stop and second," Getz said. "She thought I was talking to her and she hesitated."

Markovich made the third out, ending the Leopards rally with the leadoff hitter on deck. Smithsburg stranded a runner at second in the seventh inning.

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