In a season full of stellar performances, Smithsburg starting pitcher Josh Miller saved his best for last.
The senior tossed a complete game shutout and struck out 10 to lift the Leopards of Washington County to the Class 1A state championship, defeating Sparrows Point 9-0 at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
Pointers senior ace Josh Icenrode started despite a broken finger that sidelined him for two weeks. The injury appeared to affect his control; after walking only eight batters all season, Icenrode walked 10 against Smithsburg.
"Josh is a senior, he's a captain, this is his team and he finished it," Sparrows Point coach Marc Kline said of the decision to start Icenrode. "It absolutely killed him [injuring his finger] and I can only imagine the pain he was pitching in. He doesn't usually walk that many batters."
Smithsburg (14-11) started off hot, using an RBI single by third baseman Joey Schwartz and an error by Sparrows Point second baseman Brent Kline to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
Miller and a sharp Leopard defense took it from there and Smithsburg added four more runs late to coast to the school's first ever state baseball championship.
"I was zoned in," Miller said. "I just pounded the zone with the fastball and dropped in my curveball," a pitch that Kline acknowledged was difficult for the Pointers (12-6) to hit.
"We don't see many curveballs ... it's hard to lay off a curveball, and Miller's was fantastic," he said.
Smithsburg won despite notching only four hits, using 10 walks and six stolen bases to fulfill coach Trey Cobb's directive to "dominate the free base war."
"We knew about the broken finger coming in," he said "We tried to come into today aiming to take some walks and the guys did a fantastic job."
Despite coming up short, Kline sees the championship game appearance as a stepping stone to future success.
"They're a good group of kids and I'm proud of them," he said. "Next year, we're returning 10 kids, and we're going to be back."
Class 1A State Championship
(at Ripken Stadium)
Smithsburg 9, Sparrows Point 0
SP 000 000 0 -- 0 3 2
SM 230 013 x -- 9 4 0
Miller and Kolich; Icenrode and Wright. 2B: SM- SpinksCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun