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Host Rams take down Eagles in pitcher's duel

By Robert Edmonds - sports@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG --The Rams maintained possession of second place in the Bull Run District Thursday night when they beat the visiting Clarke County Eagles 4-1 in baseball action.

"Both pitchers threw really well tonight," Rams coach Jeff Smoot said. "They made a few mistakes out there, and our defense was probably a little more sound and that was the difference. They really hurt themselves."

After having the matchup postponed twice in the last two days, both teams were eager to square off while battling for position in the district. The time off didn't seem to effect either of the starting pitchers as each had solid performances.

In the end, it was Strasburg's ability to take advantage of the Eagles mistakes that led to the difference in the game. While only notching one hit on the night, which came in the fifth inning, the Rams scored three runs to break a 1-1 deadlock and take the lead.

Entering the bottom of the fifth, Eagles pitcher Ethan Emmart clung to a no-hit performance while allowing one run that came off an error by shortstop Jarrett Souder in the third inning.

Jalen Doman wasted little time ending the hitless outing for the Rams when he led off with a single to center field to start the inning. Emmart may have been unsettled by the hit giving up walks to the next two batters he faced to load the bases with no outs.

Tyler Doman followed with a groundball to shortstop that resulted in an out on a fielders' choice, but scored Jalen Doman and gave the Rams their first lead of the night. 

Two batters later, Todd Dean ripped a shot towards first base that Patrick McGrath misplayed allowing two more Rams to score and keep the inning alive.  Emmart managed to get Strasburg pitcher Tyler Hott to groundout to end the inning, but the damage had already been done.

"Our pitcher pitched well enough to win tonight," Eagles coach Jon Novick said. "He worked hard and only gave up one hit. As far as the rest of the game, I don't really have anything to say."

Clarke County had one last good opportunity in the top of the sixth inning. Drew Paice ran out an infield hit to reach base to start the inning, and a pair of walks, later in the inning, gave the Eagles the bases loaded with two outs.

Daniel Bailey could not come through, however, as Hott bared down striking Bailey out for the second time on the night and ending the inning.

"I think having the last two nights off because of the rain actually helped me tonight," Hott said. "Last Friday, I pitched five innings in relief and the nights off gave me some rest and helped me have some time to get ready for this game."

When Hott started the seventh, he appeared determined to finish off the Eagles and complete the win. Recording the Clarke lineup in order, the pitcher helped move his team one step closer to clinching second place and keep the Eagles behind them.

"We've still got a couple more difficult games yet to play and I don't believe either of them will be easy," Smoot said. "In terms of the second place battle though, this game was significant. At this point in the season, I don't think focus is an issue for our players. I'm not worried about them being ready to work on finishing strong."

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