Bowers throws two-hitter as Rams top Eagles

STRASBURG — Sometimes a little pep talk can make all the difference.

Strasburg pitcher Ryan Bowers had a little talk with coach Jeff Smoot and it worked like magic for the junior. Bowers settled down and threw a complete-game two-hitter to lead the Rams to a 9-2 Bull Run District and Conference 35 victory on Friday night.

“I started off good. Then I struggled a little bit in the second inning,” Bowers said. “And that’s when coach Smoot came out, talked to me a little bit, motivated me some. I just put it all together.”

Bowers gave up a run in the first inning, after Clarke County’s Jodron Turner drew a walk and later scored on an error.

The Rams tied things up in the bottom of the first as Clarke County starting pitcher Colt Webb walked the bases loaded. Strasburg’s Adam Miller scored on a wild pitch.

Clarke County’s Michael Zuleger singled, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Bowers walked back-to-back batters to load the bases. Clarke County’s Issac Heavener then drew a walk to score Zuleger for a 2-1 edge.

Bowers was able to get out of the inning with a groundout by Cody Santmyer, and looked sharp most of the remainder of the game.

“I didn’t know what it was, but after (Smoot) came out and talked to me — it was just game on from there,” Bowers said.

Bowers got some help in the bottom of the third as the Rams scored four runs to take a 5-2 lead.

Strasburg (4-2) had only four hits in the game but drew 12 walks and were hit by a pitch on three occasions.

Clarke County pitchers Webb and Santmyer combined for five walks in the bottom of the third. The Rams sent 10 batters to the plate. Two runs scored on an error, one scored on a balk, and Bowers drew a walk with the bases loaded for another run.

“I don’t know that we hit particularly well, but we did play a very good offensive game,” Smoot said. “There is more to being a good offensive team than just the number of hits that you get. In a lot of respects I thought we were pretty good on offense. … We were patient. I think their approach was very good. We executed, I think, the game plan like you would want to.”

Once Bowers had the lead he became even stronger on the mound. He struck out seven in the game, and only allowed one hit in the last five innings.

“He started to have a little better command after we got through the first two innings,” Smoot said. “Quite honestly, I’m sure the fact that we were able to give him a little bit of a cushion to work off of probably played a factor.”

The Rams added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth. They took advantage of three errors, two hit batters and a single by Colten Smith.

Zuleger and Chris Davis had Clarke County’s only hits.

Smith led the Rams with two hits, while Eric Reynolds and Justin Rickard had a single each.

Strasburg has now won four games in a row after losing its first two games of the season.

Bowers said the key for the team was playing together.

“We became a team, became a family,” he said.

Smoot said the players deserve a lot of credit for the way they’ve turned things around since the first week of the season.

“We’ve gotten better in every aspect of the game,” Smoot said. “Certainly we’ve got a ways to go, but we’re without question a better baseball team than we were three weeks ago, and I think that is a credit to our players. They accepted responsibility for the first week. We knew we weren’t good, and I think our guys have worked hard to try to get better.”

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