Rams advance to regionals with win

STRASBURG — Mark Smoot may not have had his best stuff, but it was more than good enough for Strasburg on Tuesday night.

The senior pitched six solid innings to lead the Rams to an 11-3 Conference 35 baseball quarterfinal win over Clarke County. The win sends the Rams to the Region 2A East tournament next week.

“It was probably my worst start of the season,” Mark Smoot said. “But if that was my worst and we still won, I’ll take it. It shows what kind of season I’ve had.”

The Rams jumped on the Eagles for four runs in the bottom of the first before a 25-minute rain delay.

Noah St. Clair was hit by a pitch from Clarke County starter Alex Dobry. Ryan Smoot then doubled to score St. Clair. One out later, Nate Butler’s RBI single gave the Rams a 2-0 edge.

Mark Smoot followed with an RBI triple, which he said was probably the first of his entire career. He drilled the pitch into right field and it took a bad bounce and then went to the wall.

“I had two strikes, so I decided I want to be late on it and drive to the right side,” Mark Smoot said.

The Rams (21-1) added another four runs in the bottom of the second off Dobry for an 8-0 lead. Butler had a two-run double, and Smoot had a two-run single.

“I think offensively we were really good, especially early on,” Strasburg coach Jeff Smoot said.

That was more than enough for Mark Smoot. The lefty struck out eight in six innings, but did struggle with his command at times. He walked three at hit a batter.

“I think the rain delay hurt me. It threw me off of my routine,” Mark Smoot said. “I had a bad changeup tonight.”

The Rams will host George Mason on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Mustangs beat Page County, 3-1, in the other semifinal game.

Mark Smoot and Butler each had two hits and three RBIs.

Strasburg advanced to the Group 2A state final last year, and Mark Smoot said it was nice to be back in regionals.

“There’s a lot of good teams in the region. It’s an honor just to be in regionals,” Mark Smoot said. It seems like there’s never any bad teams in regionals.

“Now it gets real.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com