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Leopards' Conway shuts down Cougars

April 30, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SMITHSBURG -- Josh Conway threw a three-hit complete game with 11 strikeouts, and No. 5 Smithsburg scored at least one run in each of the first five innings to defeat Catoctin 6-2 in a key MVAL Antietam baseball battle Wednesday.

"Overall, a great effort," Leopards coach Trey Cobb said. "It was very close to us playing a solid seven-inning effort, and that's what we want. We had good intensity in the dugout."

Conway walked five -- all in the last three innings -- and the only two runs he allowed came in the third and were both unearned thanks to two errors, one his own.

Conway walked Zack Kreitz to lead off the seventh, but as his pitch count climbed to 111, he bore down and retired the last three batters he faced on a flyout, popout and a called strike three to end the game.

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"This is typical of a senior stepping up," Cobb said. "He wanted the ball in the last inning. I can't say enough about his effort. He wants to do as much as he can."

"I had a good fastball. I was able to run it in on righties, and then start it outside and run it back over the plate," Conway said. "I had a good slider and I was able to capitalize on my opportunities. ... We came to play today."

Catoctin (11-4, 5-2) pitcher R.J. Smith showcased a nasty curve and struck out 10 in five innings. But Smithsburg (11-3-1, 5-2) came up with enough offense to keep the Cougars trailing nearly the entire game.

Kyle Orndorff led off the first with a single and came around on two wild pitches and Conway's RBI groundout for a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Jack Schwartz doubled to left and scored on a fielding error to make it 2-0.

The Cougars tied the game at 2 in the third on two singles and two errors -- one on Conway's overthrow to first, the other a grounder that went under Schwartz's glove at third with two outs which allowed both runs to score.

It didn't stay tied for long. Sophomore Ryne Willard -- recently moved up from the bottom of the order to the second spot -- drove a pitch to right for a solo home run and a 3-2 lead.

"Ryne handles the bat well, sees a lot of pitches and understands the game well for a young guy," Cobb said. "I'm glad he's able to step up as a young guy on this team."

Schwartz singled to right to lead off the fourth and came around on a wild pitch, a groundout and Cody Shives' sacrifice fly to left for a 4-2 lead.

Then in the fifth, Willard sparked a two-run inning with a smoked single down the left-field line. Conway was intentionally walked, a wild pitch moved both runners up a base, and Jay Shafer -- who struck out his first two at-bats -- hit a 3-2 pitch to center for a two-run single.

"That was Jay stepping up, making an adjustment in his swing, not giving up and being a good ballplayer," Cobb said. "We had a lot of two-strike hits, guys doing better with their two-strike approach, and we need that."

Conway got out of a jam in the fifth after he walked the bases loaded, coming up with a slider for a swinging third strike to end the inning.

Smithsburg 6, Catoctin 2
Catoctin 002 000 0 -- 2 3 2
Smithsburg 111 120 x -- 6 7 3

Smith, Larsen (6) and Larsen, Goutney (6). Conway and Gouff. WP -- Conway. LP -- Smith. HR -- S: Willard (3rd, none on).

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