SMITHSBURG—The Smithsburg baseball team has begun to channel its inner New York Giant.
With the season the Leopards have had, they've adopted the motto: "It's not how you start, it's how you finish." After all, it worked for the Super Bowl champions.
It worked on Friday as Smithsburg rallied from an early 3-0 deficit, using a pair of two-run home runs in the last half of the game to ignite a 5-3 victory over Northern Carroll in the first round of the Maryland Class 1A West Region East Sectional tournament.
"We didn't play well early, but we finished strong," said Smithsburg coach Trey Cobb. "That's the way our season has gone. ... We didn't start well but we finished strong."
It was as if the Leopards (4-17) followed that script to advance to Monday's section semifinal game at Brunswick.
Smithsburg fell behind 3-0 after three innings as errors forced starting pitcher Brad Spickler to throw extra pitches and allowed the Panthers (4-14) the opportunity to score all of their runs.
The Leopards had to dig down to find their offense, igniting two rallies on infield singles created by all-out hustle.
The first came in the fourth when Brock Heiston beat out a grounder to short for a hit. He was eliminated on a fielder's choice grounder by Spickler, but the emotional lift carried over to Kyle Dinterman, who smacked a David Anderson pitch over the fence in right to move the Leopards within 3-2.
"We teach these guys to play with 100 percent great effort and a good attitude," Cobb said. "We would have got this one if we didn't have that to get those little things."
Spickler carried the attitude over to the sixth inning by legging out a hit on a one-out grounder to short.
"It's all about hustle," Spickler said. "That's what (Cobb) has told us about every play. When you do it, you can feel the momentum shift.
"The effort to give all that I have comes from the lessons I have learned the last couple of months through the things that have happened with my family. This is nothing to compare to that."
Spickler played after spending Friday morning as a pallbearer at the funeral for Samantha Kelly, the Williamsport student who died in an auto accident with classmate Brendon Colliflower last Saturday night. His grandfather also fainted during the service.
"It was another big outing by Brad Spickler," Cobb said. "He performed on a day when most other 18-year-olds would have folded. He was an inspiration to go out there and play that kind of game after what he did today."
Spickler's inspiration carried over to the rest of the Leopards.
Devin Baker followed the infield single by completing a nine-pitch at-bat with a drive over the fence in left-center field to give Smithsburg a 4-3 lead.
"(Spickler's single) was big before I came up," Baker said. "I come up looking for runners on base because I want to drive in RBIs. That was big. That first home run helped us a lot. We never seem to get going until something good happens to us."
James Shifler and Josh Miller followed with two-out singles to set up Dylan Durning's RBI double to provide an insurance run and end the three-run rally.
Spickler went out and finished his complete-game victory, recording the final out with the tying runs in scoring position. He allowed three runs (one earned), six hits and four walks while striking out three.
"First and foremost, Brendon and Sam were on the mound with me," Spickler said.
From beginning to end.
"It was a gutsy performance," Cobb said. "It was really a total team effort."
Smithsburg 5, North Carroll 3
North Carroll 012 000 0 — 3 6 0
Smithsburg 000 203 x — 5 9 5
Anderson, Sadowski (6) and Maloney. Spickler and Durning. WP— Spickler. LP — Anderson. HR — S: Dinterman (4th, one on), Baker (6th, one on).