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North Hagerstown gets back to basics in 2A West first-round win

May 14, 2008|By CONNER GILBERT / Staff Correspondent

North Hagerstown used the classic baseball fundamentals of solid pitching, good defense and timely hitting to its advantage on Tuesday, defeating Middletown 8-1 in a Maryland Class 2A West first-round game at North.

Cody Nelling got the start for the Hubs and pitched a complete game, surrendering only four hits, two walks and one run while striking out 10.

"He hadn't pitched in about two weeks, and I thought he might be rusty, but he threw the ball well," said Hubs coach Shawn Reynolds. "He really held Middletown in check."

Meanwhile, the Hubs picked up a clutch hit in the third inning to break the game open. With the bases loaded, left fielder Jake Steich laced a pitch into right-center field to clear the bases and put North up 3-0.

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Steich scored later in the inning on a Colby Fisher groundout to put North up 4-0.

"I'm happy with myself and I'm really looking forward to the next game to keep it going," said Steich. "My confidence level is really high right now."

The Hubs picked up another run in the fourth when Tyler Fairley doubled, then scored on an infield error for a 5-0 lead.

Steich struck again in the sixth, knocking in a pair of runs with a single to center. After advancing to second on the throw home, he stole third and scored on an error to put the Hubs up 8-0.

"I come out every game and just try to put the ball in play to make things happen," said Steich. "But the kids ahead of me have to get on base, so it's not just me."

"Jake had two big hits today with runners in scoring position, and that really gives the pitcher breathing room," said Reynolds.

While the Hubs' victory was an example of all facets of the team working in unison, Reynolds knows that his team must stay focused and consistently play to its abilities.

"We had good pitching, played well in the field today and got timely hitting," said Reynolds. "When we play like this, we can play with anybody."

North travels to Clarksburg today for a 2A West quarterfinal at 5 p.m.

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