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March 17, 2012
By Mark Sawyer
Special to The Winchester Star
BERRYVILLE- Playing its third game of the week, the Clarke County High School baseball team was not only searching for answers to its offensive woes, it was still searching for its first victory.

In the first two games of the season, (both losses) the Eagles combined for just three runs on seven hits but Clarke County got the bats going on Friday.

The Eagles banged out 10 hits and took advantage of several James Wood miscues to rally to defeat the Colonels 7-6 in a non-district game at Singhas Field in Berryville for their first victory of the season.

"I was very happy with how our guys played today from beginning to end," Clarke County coach Jon Novick said. "Our attitude was up all day. Even when we were down a little bit our guys were playing with their heads up and did everything they needed to do to get the win today. This is by far the best hitting we've had this season."

After holding the Colonels scoreless in the top of the first inning, Clarke County (1-2) went right to work with the bats. Center fielder Drew Paice led off the game with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jarrett Sowder.

Senior shortstop Ethan Emmart then put the Eagles on the board when he laced a double down the third-base line, scoring Paice and bringing to the plate cleanup hitter Keith Hummer, a transfer from Sherando, who had a career day at the plate.

Hummer started his day off in style by blasting a 2-2 pitch over the right centerfield fence for a two-run homer to put Clarke County ahead 3-0.

"I hit it pretty good. It was a nice hit in right field," Hummer said. "I needed it. I haven't been hitting the ball all season. It was a good game."

The score would stay the same until the Eagles batted in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Hummer picked up his second hit of the game, an infield single to deep third. Evan Snapp followed with a double to left near the line and courtesy runner Jacob Rion came all the way around to score when the ball was misplayed in left field for the Colonels' first error of the game.

James Wood (1-1) answered in its half of the fourth with a little help from the Eagles this time.

Junior Adam Kennedy led off the inning by ripping a solo home run over the left-field fence to get Wood on the board. Following a strikeout, Scott Zerull reached on an error but was erased when Jordan Iden grounded into a fielder's choice, which should have ended the inning.

Nick Goode followed with his second hit of the afternoon, and No. 9 hitter Kyle Hevner worked a walk to load the bases to bring up the top of the order. Leadoff hitter Dakota Orndorff made the Eagles pay by lining a two-run single to left, and A.J. Eubank followed by ripping a double to the right-field alley. Eubank was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple but both Hevner and Orndorff had already scored, giving the Colonels a 5-4 lead.

Trailing by a run heading to the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles offense kicked in again. Emmart led off the inning by getting hit with a pitch, and Hummer continued his good day by doubling to left to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.

Snapp then tied the game on a strange double to left. Because it appeared the ball might be caught, Rion (again running for Hummer) had to hold at second and was only able to advance to third while Snapp cruised in with his second double of the game, scoring Emmart.

One out later, Novick and the Eagles rolled the dice and executed a suicide squeeze. Rion crossed the plate standing with the go-ahead run after Daniel Bailey was able to drop the bunt down.

Wood scored another unearned run in the top of the sixth to tie the score 6-6 after two more Eagles' errors. With one out, Iden reached on an error, and Goode dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line that he was going to easily be beat out for a hit. However, the Eagles throw to first was wild and skipped into foul territory down the right-field line, allowing Iden to circle the bases to tie the game.

Unfazed by the events, Clarke would rally to win it with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Paice led off the inning with a sharp single to center but was erased on Sowder's fielder's choice.

One out later, Hummer completed his perfect day, dropping a perfectly placed single to left which was misplayed by Wood. With two outs in the inning, Sowder was running on the pitch and the ball got away, allowing him to score easily from first, giving the Eagles the lead once again 7-6.

Taking nothing for granted and badly wanting the win, the Eagles sent their ace out to the mound for the seventh inning. Emmart, normally a starter, retired the Colonels in order in the seventh to pick up the save and preserve the win for Clarke County.

"That team swings it. They play hard, they came to play, and they wanted it more then we did today," James Wood coach Jared Mounts said. "There's only one way to go and that's up. You try to develop a winning program - you've got to win day in and day out. You can't take one step forward and two steps back. You've got to find ways to win games.

"You've got to make the defensive plays. You can't give a team that swings it like that more [at bats]. You've got to make the plays. We're swinging better this year but I didn't like our mentality at the plate tonight. We've got to make adjustments at the plate and be more aggressive."

Hummer led the way at the plate for the Eagles, finishing 4 for 4 with a home run, double, run scored and two RBIs. Snapp had a pair of doubles and an RBI, and Paice had two hits and a run scored.

Goode and Eubank each had three hits for the Colonels while Eubank and Orndorff both drove in two and Iden scored twice.