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Smith just misses shutout, Aviators top Cats 8-1

July 14, 2004 - Central Baseball League (Central League) - Coastal Bend Aviators News Release

Robstown, TX– Mike Smith proved again Wednesday night why even at the age of 40 he’s one of the top pitchers in the Central Baseball League – “Smitty” tossed his third complete game of the season, allowing just two hits and coming within one out of a shutout as Coastal Bend breezed by Fort Worth 8-1 in front of 2,291 at Fairgrounds Field in Robstown…the Aviators taking the rubber match of their three-game series with the visiting Cats.

A night after Coastal Bend committed four errors that led to seven unearned runs in a 9-3 loss to Fort Worth, the Cats returned the favor Wednesday, betraying starting pitcher Allen Davis with four miscues and allowing the Aviators to use several gift-wrapped runs to build an early lead. In the bottom of the 2nd Eric Battersby and Trey Salinas led off the inning with singles…then Mike Guerrero laid down a sacrifice bunt. Cats first baseman Bryon Smith threw to first base, but the ball flew past Dennis Pelfrey covering and up the right field line…Battersby scoring on the error to put Coastal Bend on the board. With runners at second and third, Francisco Lebron hit a sharp grounder to the mound, and Salinas was quickly caught in a rundown between third and home…but Fort Worth catcher Jason Radwan dropped the ball while trying to apply the tag, and Salinas scrambled home with the second unearned run of the inning. In the 4th Salinas wrapped a hard-hit line drive around the left field foul pole…his fourth homer of the season giving the Aviators a 3-0 lead.

Coastal Bend took advantage of two more Cats errors to plate three runs in the 5th – with one out, Greg Strickland’s grounder to second was booted by Pelfrey…Edwin Maldonado followed with a single to right. With both runners on the move, Cris Colon slapped a grounder to shortstop, but Ricky Gomez’ throw to first bounced away from Bryon Smith and allowed both Strickland and Maldonado to score. Battersby promptly singled home Colon to make the score 6-0 in favor of the Aviators. Mike Smith, meanwhile, was mowing his way through the Fort Worth lineup – after surrendering a 2nd inning single to Bryon Smith, Smitty retired 18 of the next 19 batters he faced, including 14 in a row at one point. Maldonado iced the game with a two-run single in the 8th to put Coastal Bend up 8-0…the only drama was whether Smith could complete the shutout. Pelfrey led off the Fort Worth 9th with a base hit and reached third with two outs. Carlos Adolfo then hit a routine grounder to third, but Colon’s low throw skipped by Lebron at first…Pelfrey scoring on the error and ruining Smith’s shutout bid. But Smitty came back to strike out Terence Green to post the complete game victory and the Aviators their seventh win over the Cats in 12 meetings this season.

Smith (9-3) struck out eight in winning his sixth straight decision; despite also tossing a complete game and allowing just three earned runs, Davis (6-5) took the loss for the Cats. The Aviators had 11 hits on the night, with Maldonado going 3-for-5…Battersby and Salinas also chipped in with two hits apiece. Wednesday’s win upped Coastal Bend’s second half record to 9-7 (33-31 overall), while Fort Worth fell to 7-10 in the second half and 32-32 on the year. The Aviators take Thursday off before heading to Amarillo to take on the West Division leading Dillas in a three-game weekend set…righthander Dan Henderson (1-1 for Coastal Bend, 4-2 overall) will be on the mound in Friday’s series opener.

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