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Leopards turn agony into ecstasy

May 15, 2007|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

BOONSBORO - Excited. Dejected. Inspired.

That just about covers the fourth-inning emotions for the Smithsburg baseball team in its Maryland Class 1A West quarterfinal game against Boonsboro on Monday.

Bad baserunning wasted two hits to open the Smithsburg fourth, but the Leopards responded by scoring seven runs - all with two outs - and withstood a pair of Warriors rallies for a 13-10 win.

The Leopards go for their fifth straight victory when they travel to play Southern Garrett in the semifinals Wednesday.

"Every hit was a key hit," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes of his team's fourth-inning explosion. "Two weeks ago, we started hitting the ball. And if we can keep swinging like that and keep pitching the way we have been, then we can keep winning."

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With the Leopards trailing 3-1, Josh Bodine and Ben Walzl each singled to open the fourth. Walzl's hit to right field took a bad hop past Boonsboro's Curtis Wolfe, allowing both runners to take an extra base. But Walzl rounded second base - Bodine stopped at third - and was caught in a rundown and tagged out by shortstop Jacob Pendergraft.

Bodine attempted to score during the rundown, but Pendergraft fired home and catcher Kyle Kane made the tag. Instead of runners on second and third with no outs, Smithsburg had no runners on with two outs.

"It was pretty much depression," senior Kevin Tyler said of the mood in the Leopards' dugout. "We had a great shot to score some runs, but it was just horrible base running."

Smithsburg missed out on that opportunity to score, but there turned out to be plenty more.

Travis Hayes jump-started the Leopards with a single, Bobby Smith walked and Steve Hines was plunked by Boonsboro starter Chris Selby to load the bases.

Tyler doubled to right center to give the Leopards a 4-3 lead, and he scored when Matt Shriver reached on Selby's throwing error for a 5-3 edge.

A triple by Kevin Kocsis scored Shriver, and Conway capped the eruption with a two-run home run to put Smithsburg ahead, 8-3.

"It got silent (after the base-running mistakes), but we were still confident," Conway said. "Confidence was a big part of why we were able to do what we did."

The Leopards (10-12) scored five more runs in the last two innings. The insurance runs proved important because the Warriors (11-8) twice cut the deficit to two runs - 8-6 after the fifth, and 12-10 after the sixth.

Kocsis (6-0) started for the Leopards and scattered seven hits in five innings before giving way to Conway with a 12-6 lead. Conway was roughed up for four runs in the sixth - Kyle Kane blasted a two-run home run - but retired the side in order in the seventh to close out the win.

"(Kocsis) threw about 75 pitches and he just threw a couple of innings (Friday)," Fowkes said. "We just tried to play the numbers game and get out with the win."

Every starter had at least one hit for the Leopards.

Kane had three hits, drove in three and scored three runs, Adam Chambers hit two doubles and Selby homered for the Warriors.

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