A star in local competitions, Ashton and his partner, Ernie Jones, dispatch two other two-man teams in early rounds.

"My wife says, Don't bring home any more trophies!'" he said, laughing. "If I win one today, I'll give it to the neighbors here. They deserve it."

The jollity mixed with the seriousness of competition. Randy Booth, who has lived in Pigtown for 52 of his 53 years, said a key to the game is being able to develop a simple motion and repeat it again and again.

"Trust me, it takes years," he said.

So does developing a strong neighborhood. Leon Green and his partner, Whitney, were ousted early in the tournament, but stood by happily sipping a beer.

He seemed to be savoring a bigger victory.

"We have a good time here. Horseshoes is about getting together and talking and enjoying yourself. You don't even have to be that good. It's all for fun. It's the way we're raised here in Pigtown," he said.

jonathan.pitts@baltsun.com

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