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Air-in raid - Martin's three homers help West End oust South Mountain

July 09, 2008|By CONNER GILBERT / Staff Correspondent

BOONSBORO -- In many one-run games, a single player makes the difference.

For the West End All-Stars on Tuesday, Airin Martin was that player.

Martin's three home runs helped West End defeat South Mountain 7-6 in a Maryland District 1 11-12 Tournament losers' bracket game at Murphy Field.

"Airin showed up and was a big stick for us," said West End manager Bob Leatherman.

Martin led off top of the first inning with a home run to right-center field.

"I was just trying to get base hits," said Martin. "But I hit the ball well and it went over the fence."

"That's why he's in the leadoff position, because he can hit," said Leatherman. "He has become a silent leader for the team."

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Carlos Torres added an RBI double in the first to put West End up 2-0.

Martin struck again in the second, clubbing a two-run shot to center field to give West End a 4-0 lead.

South Mountain cut the deficit to 4-1 in the bottom half of the second when a run scored on Casey Strunk's groundout.

In the third, South Mountain used its version of the long ball when Trevor Walsh hit a two-run homer to left field, cutting the West End lead to 4-3.

West End answered in the fourth when Martin scored on an infield error for a 5-3 lead.

In the sixth, Martin added an insurance run for West End when he homered to left, making it 6-3.

"I scooted up in the box and choked up on the bat," said Martin, whose three home runs in one game were a career best.

Two batters later, Dylan Stouffer's RBI single to center increased West End's lead to 7-3.

South Mountain would not go down quietly. Zach Poffenberger crushed a three-run homer to left field with two outs in the sixth to close the gap to 7-6.

But West End reliever Colby Johnson got a strikeout to end the game.

"We're pretty deep in pitching," Leatherman said. "We're fortunate to have kids pitching as well as they are."

The victory also showcased smart defense by West End, which was errorless in the game.

"We tried to minimize mistakes, and we're trying to play error-free baseball," said Leatherman. "We're improving with every game."

To Leatherman, the improvements by West End are a sign of its potential.

"I look for the team to build on this momentum," he said. "I love their enthusiasm and how they're coming together."

West End will host the winner of today's American-Clear Spring losers' backet game on Thursday at 6 p.m.

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