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Completely spotless - Blazers' Kehr fashions no-hit outing to baffle Leopards

April 03, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SMITHSBURG - If pitching really is an art form, then Clear Spring senior John Kehr played the part of Picasso on Wednesday night.

Displaying a hard slider that ran away from right-handed hitters, a two-seam fastball running into them and a changeup with late downward movement, Kehr no-hit Smithsburg and made it look easy in the Blazers' 10-0 shutout in both teams' MVAL Antietam opener.

"About the third inning, I was starting to think I might do this," said Kehr, who needed just 79 pitches - 53 for strikes - to turn away the Leopards. "I had one going against them last year and couldn't finish it, so I'm glad I was able to get it this time."

"He kept the pitch count down and got in a groove," said Clear Spring assistant coach Curtis Eby, filling in for head coach Mark Shives, who was absent for unspecified reasons. "He's learned a lot from Coach Shives. He knows he can use his head on the mound and get the job done."

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Kehr struck out nine - five of them looking at the same pitch, a slider over the outside corner - and never threw more than 17 pitches in any inning. He only allowed two runners - Bobby Smith walked on four pitches to lead off the third, and Aaron Schroyer reached on an infield error leading off the seventh. Neither runner made it past second base.

"(The slider's) been my out pitch since last year and it was my out pitch tonight," Kehr said. "I had my changeup and I had my fastball running in. ... I started hitting my spots. (Catcher) Corey (Morgan) set up on the corner and I hit the spot, which helped me widen the zone."

"He pitched a great game," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "He was around the strike zone most of the time and we were reluctant to swing at pitches on the outside part of the plate. He lived out there all day."

Only one of Clear Spring's eight hits - Kehr's RBI double in the fifth inning - went for extra bases. Kyle Crist and Josh Green had RBI singles and the Blazers (3-1, 1-0) took advantage of four Smithsburg (2-1, 0-1) errors, three walks and two hits batters to keep the runs coming.

"It's good to see them come back after a tough loss," Eby said, referring to Monday's 6-2 loss at Berkeley Springs, in which Clear Spring struck out 15 times. "We hit the ball where we were supposed to, behind the hitters, moving them around. I'm proud of our guys, proud of John."

"On our part, it was a terrible display of baseball, a lack of effort," Fowkes said. "We didn't show up today."

Green finished with three hits and Kehr and Crist each had two for the Blazers.

By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Clear Spring's John Kehr, who comes to the plate with a pitch, fired a no-hitter on Wednesday to blank Smithsburg 10-0. Kehr used amazing movement to shut down the Leopards on 79 pitches and nine strikeouts.

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