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Prep Baseball: Courtney, Hubs slam door on Leopards

March 30, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • North Hagerstown's Alex Courtney is congratulated at home plate after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning against Smithsburg on Friday.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG — After four innings, the North Hagerstown baseball team decided to become judge, jury and executioner.

The Hubs allowed Smithsburg to hang around for half the game. It was time to hang the Leopards in the fifth and designated hitter Alex Courtney provided the finishing touches.

Courtney hit what became a game-ending grand slam to cap North’s eight-run fifth inning and lead the Hubs to a 15-5 win over Smithsburg on Friday in an MVAL Antietam game that was shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.

“We were trying not to let (Smithsburg) hang around,” said Courtney. “We had to get back at them.”

The Hubs (4-1, 3-0), who hit four home runs, led 7-0 through 2 1/2 innings and looked to be en route to a quick, easy victory.

But Smithsburg (0-5, 0-3) got the timing against North starter Aaron Jones to score four runs in the fourth — capped by Devin Baker’s three-run homer — and one in the fourth to move to within 7-5.

“(Smithsburg) had all the momentum in the world coming into the fifth,” said North coach Drew Crawford. “All of a sudden it was a two-run game.”

North Hagerstown brought the game under control in the fifth by scratching out four runs before Courtney’s blast.

C.J. Owings, Matt Daley and Jones hit consecutive one-out singles off Smithsburg reliever James Shifler to produce the first run of the eight-run outburst. The Hubs added two more runs on John Britton’s grounder and an infield single by Alijah Benson to take a 10-5 lead.

Shifler was lifted after walking Charles Cvijanovich and was replaced by Bryan Tracey, who had pitched for the Leopards on Thursday. Tracey issued two straight walks to bring in the fourth run and load the bases for Courtney.

Shortly thereafter, Courtney brought down the hammer with his drive to left center.

“I was just trying to level off my swing and make contact,” Courtney said. “It was a fastball that came across the middle of the plate. I wasn’t thinking about a grand slam, but I did want a couple of RBIs.”

The homer all but deflated the Leopards. Britton, who relieved Jones with two outs in the fourth, set down Smithsburg — striking out two — in the fifth to end the game.

“(Jones) battled for us and nearly gave us four innings. He kept us ahead and got us to the bullpen,” Crawford said. “Britton came on and he throws strikes. He’s the shutdown guy.”

Smithsburg had a chance to make the game really interesting in the fourth as Zach Krall, Shifler and Brock Heiston all singled to load the bases, setting up J.R. Rinehart’s sacrifice fly for the second out.

Baker followed with a single but Shifler couldn’t score, which reloaded the bases. Britton relieved Jones and struck out Kyle Dinterman to end the inning.

“We were right in there,” said Smithsburg coach Trey Cobb. “We just had a little baserunning mishap. We were one swing away from really staying in the game. We are trying to find who will step up in that part of the game.”

Rinehart started for Smithsburg and was touched for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Jones hit a two-run home run to right in the second as the Hubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

Philip Pietro hit a solo shot and Matt Daley added a wind-aided two-run homer to highlight North’s four-run third for the 7-0 lead.

North finished with 14 hits as Daley and Jones finished with three each. Baker had two of Smithsburg’s nine hits and drove in three runs.

“I’m proud of how the guys stuck around and came back and stick with it,” Cobb said. “How many teams that are 0-4 would do that. We are not as bad as our record shows.”

North Hagerstown 15, Smithsburg 5
North     124    08    —    15    14    2
Smithsburg    004    10    —    5    9    0
Jones, Britton (4) and Williams; Rinehart, Lee (3), Shifler (4), Tracey (5) and Durning, Shifler (5). HR — NH: Jones (2nd, one on); Pietro (3rd, none on); Daley (3rd, two on); Courtney (5th, three on); S: Baker (4th, two on). WP — Jones. LP — Rinehart. SV — Britton.

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