West End strikes first against National

July 06, 2008|By MARK KELLER

West End coach Bob Leatherman likened his team's first-round game in the Maryland District 1 11-12 Tournament to a pitcher throwing the first pitch of a game.

"It's just like that first pitch. It's gotta be a strike," Leatherman said. "It's so important to get a win in that first game so you can build momentum."

West End threw a strike with that first pitch, beating National 7-1 Saturday afternoon at Hellane Park.

Colby Johnson led the way for West End, firing a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts and helping his cause with a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Dylan Stouffer and Airin Martin also homered for the winners, while David Moser added two hits.

West End plays host to Conococheague, which had a first-round bye, Monday at 6 p.m. National drops into the losers' bracket, where it will host the loser of Monday's Valley-Federal game on Tuesday.


Johnson appeared anxious early on, leaving many of his pitches up in the strike zone. After National leadoff hitter Jeremy Strain popped out to third, Bryce Nigh worked Johnson to a 3-0 count before Johnson came back to strike him out.

Johnson did the same to No. 3 hitter Josh Miller after falling behind 2-0 in the count.

"He's our No. 1 guy," Leatherman said. "He's worked real hard on his pitches, getting his pitches down, but more importantly, he's got a good head on his shoulders."

The West End offense gave Johnson all the support he would need in the bottom of the first. Dylan Bickford drew a one-out walk from Miller and Stouffer crushed a two-out, no-doubt-about-it home run to right-center to give West End a 2-0 lead.

Johnson coasted the first time through the National order, allowing just one baserunner on a hit-by-pitch. Strain poked one over Stouffer's head in right field in the third to give National its first hit, but he slipped rounding first and was stranded there.

West End made it 4-0 in the bottom of the third when Stouffer was hit by a pitch and Martin followed with a two-run blast to left field.

National posed its biggest threat in the fourth when Miller and Jay Holbrook started the inning with consecutive singles and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. But Johnson remained calm, striking out Cody Rachor, getting Jeff Bennett to pop out and Kyler Lynch to line out to second to keep National off the board.

Miller got two quick outs in the bottom of the fourth, but then walked Tyler Shindle and Bickford before surrendering his third homer -- this one a blast onto Route 40 by Johnson.

"There are a lot of homers hit here, but those balls that were hit today would have been out of any park," Leatherman said. "We're about hitting the ball hard and these guys have been working hard at it."

National got its only run in the fifth when Elijah Miller walked, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on another wild pitch.

Josh Miller allowed five hits and struck out five in 3 2/3 innings. Bennett came on in relief for National and struck out all four hitters he faced.

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