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Culpeper walks then runs over Fauquier baseball team to improve to 4-0

Friday, Mar. 29 | By Jeff Malmgren
First they walked.

Then they ran.

And their opponent couldn't catch up either way.

The Culpeper Blue Devils used six base-on-balls and 11 stolen bases Friday to beat the Fauquier Falcons, 7-3, at home and improve their record to 4-0 this season.

The Falcons (1-3) also drew six walks, but didn't steal any bases, and four of those base-on-balls came in the seventh inning with Fauquier already trailing, 7-1.

Culpeper, conversely, began the game with consecutive walks. Fauquier starting pitcher Brad Smoot walked Corey Slawson and J.P. Gorby, who then combined to steal three bases and score on a John Anderson RBI-single and a Fauquier error.

The Blue Devils finished the first inning with three walks, five stolen bases and a 3-0 lead. They added two walks and four stolen bases in the second inning to score once more, which proved to be the winning run.

"We had to do more little things to generate movement" around the bases, Culpeper coach Billy Mitchell said. "Staying aggressive was part of the plan today."

The Blue Devils used quite a different approach Thursday during a 14-4 victory over King George. They hit three home runs.

"The 14 [runs] came a lot easier than the seven did today," Mitchell said Friday. "I knew [the Falcons] had some good pitching. … It was a hard-fought seven runs."

For the Blue Devils, Slawson finished with four stolen bases and an RBI on 0-for-1 hitting, while Anderson went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run, Jermaine Butler went 2-for-3 with three stolen bases and a run, Brett Smith (and his courtesy runner) went 1-for-1 with two runs and a stolen base, and Jared Elliot went 1-for-2 with an RBI, run and stolen base.

Smoot left the mound in the second inning having allowed four runs (two earned) on only two hits (four walks) over one inning. It was his first appearance of the season after recently nursing a sore arm. Sam Tinnesz replaced him and went two innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks.

"Smoot was quite disappointing. He couldn't find the plate," Fauquier coach Bob Martin said. "Sam Tinnesz has a fairly slow move to the plate. He has a higher kick, so it takes him a little longer to release the ball," which gave Culpeper opportunities to steal bases.

Max Winn had the best day on the mound for Fauquier. He allowed no walks and only one stolen base over the final three innings to hold Culpeper to one unearned run on three hits.

"I just tried to hit my spots and not walk" batters, he said. "Give them something they would hit so my defense could do something with it."

That was also the approach of Culpeper starting pitcher Brett Smith, and he executed it over 6 1/3 innings. Fauquier's offense struggled all night despite striking out only twice in 31 at bats.

Smith induced 11 ground outs (Jake Davis added one in relief) and allowed only four hits. He often worked the outside edge of the plate with a mix of fastballs and change-ups.

"We were going up there trying to pull everything when he was beating the outside corner," said Smoot, who went 1-for-3 and knocked Smith out of the game with an RBI-double in the seventh inning. "When you do that you're just going to hit ground balls to the shortstop all day. We did."

Culpeper shortstop J.P. Gorby had six assists and one putout.

"This is the best game we've played defensively of the year," Mitchell said.

Fauquier finally scored in the top of the sixth inning after Gavin Cranford led off with a single. He moved to third when Smith made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt, and scored on a Charlie Simmons RBI-single to make the score, 7-1.

Smith wore down in the seventh inning and walked three hitters before giving up the double down the left field line to Smoot, but the Culpeper pitcher held most Fauquier hitters in check. Simmons went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI, while Brad Curtis went 0-for-2 with an RBI.

"Our approach got a little better" in the last two innings, Smoot said. "We started waiting for better pitches, something we could drive. … We took advantage, but you can't wait until the last inning to do that."

During the seventh inning, the Falcons stood up against the dugout fence, hollering and shaking their own hands so their fingers audibly slapped together as they tried to spark a rally.

"We had a player last year who always did that," Winn said. "It's kind of stuck. Whenever we get rowdy we just kind of start doing it."

"It doesn't always work," Smoot said.
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