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Hill carries Clear Spring with arm, bat and glove

July 08, 2007|By CONNER GILBERT

Nick Hill did it all for Clear Spring on Saturday, contributing clutch hitting, pitching and defense to help his team defeat American 7-4 in the Maryland District 1 11-12 All-Star Tournament at Brandenburg Memorial Park.

"Nick had a terrific game," said Clear Spring manager Mike Lowry. "He does everything we ask of him."

Hill had 11 strikeouts in five innings, hit a pair of home runs and turned a game-ending double play at shortstop.

In the bottom of the first, Hill hit a two-run home run which sparked a five-run inning for Clear Spring. Chad Lowry scored on a passed ball, while Adam Mellott and Jared Brant each came home on infield errors to give Clear Spring a 5-1 lead.

"It felt good to put the team on top," Hill said. "That made it more comfortable pitching with a lead."

American threatened to have a big inning in the second, when Anthony Morton scored on Jaquien Gantt's infield single to make it a 5-2 game. Gantt reached third on a passed ball with none out, but Hill responded with three strikeouts to end the threat.

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"I was mixing in a curveball to keep the hitters off balance," said Hill. "Then I just came back with fastballs."

Hill homered again in his next at-bat in the second, sending a pitch over the center-field fence to give Clear Spring a 6-2 lead.

But American kept hanging around. In the fourth, Morton walked and moved to second on Gantt's sacrifice bunt. Tyler Maust singled to score Morton, making the score 6-3.

American picked up another run in the fifth, when Trey Jessie doubled to left, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch to cut Clear Spring's lead to 6-4.

Clear Spring got an insurance run in the fifth, when Tyler Walling reached on an error, advanced to third on Brant's double and scored on Bradley Webb's sac fly to make it 7-4.

American's biggest scoring threat came in the sixth inning after Hill was pulled due to his pitch count. Mellott took the mound to try and close the game, but hit Morton with a pitch and walked Gantt before striking out Gene Balcita. Walling replaced Mellott and needed only one pitch to get Maust to ground into a double play to Hill.

"Walling did what he needed to do with one pitch," said Lowry. "And Nick's game came full circle with the game-ending double play."

Clear Spring will play Maugansville at 6 p.m. Monday. American will play at National at 6 Monday.

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