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Lip service - Beard's ritual breaks slump, leads Warriors

April 26, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

Apparently, all you have to do is love your bat.

Boonsboro senior Eli Beard showed affection to his stick before Friday night's game against Williamsport and the bat returned the favor.

Beard homered and ripped a winning three-run double in the top of the seventh to lift Boonsboro to a thrilling 11-8 win under a steady rain at Municipal Stadium.

"I licked my bat before the game," said Beard, who finished 3-for-4. "My buddy did it once and it helped him, so I did it to help me get out of a slump."

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Beard topped his third-inning solo home run when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, with the Warriors trailing 8-6.

He roped a fastball to right field where it appeared Wildcats freshman Conner Arnone would make the game-ending putout to give Williamsport the win. But Arnone slipped on the soaked outfield grass and the ball rolled all the way to wall allowing all three runners to score, giving Boonsboro the 10-8 lead.

"I knew I hit it hard and I just took off," Beard said. "Seeing that ball fall was better than my home run earlier."

Beard scored an insurance run on a single by Dwayne Washko and Josh Smith pitched a perfect seventh to send the Warriors to the win for the season sweep.

"Our season has been a rollercoaster and this game was no different," said Boonsboro coach Ben Leonard. "I was proud to see our guys come back after giving up a lead. A lot of teams wouldn't have come back from that."

The Warriors (7-6, 3-3) scored five runs in the third behind a John Shobe grand slam - his first career homer - and the shot by Beard. Williamsport (3-10, 0-7) got two runs back in the bottom of the frame and scored once more in the fifth to cut the gap to 5-3.

That was only the beginning.

Boonsboro starter Jake Pendergraft had been solid until issuing his first walk of the game and allowing a two-run single to Arnone in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 5-5.

Smith relieved Pendergraft in hopes of damage control, but back-to-back two-base errors by the Warriors allowed Williamsport to plate three more runs for an 8-5 edge.

"Our team always fights," said Wildcats coach Larnie Vickers. "That just showed that they play until the end, until that last out."

Boonsboro, too, had that virtue.

Smith hit a leadoff single and his courtesy runner scored on a one-out single by Adam Chambers. Chris Selby walked and Pendergraft reached on a fielder's choice - all runners moved ahead safely on a throwing error - to load the bases, chasing Williamsport reliever Josh Cline from the game.

Seth Poffenberger drew a walk to cut the score to 8-7 before reliever Andrew Likely got Shobe to pop up to shortstop for the second out. But that only set the stage for Beard - with a little help from Mother Nature - to win the game.

"We made too many mistakes and walked too many," said Vickers, whose team issued 10 free passes and a hit batsman. "And when we fielded the ball we needed to make the play. It just didn't happen that way."

Aaron Hershberger reached base in all four plate appearances with three singles to lead Williamsport. Arnone finished with two hits.

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