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Smorch guides Grosse Ile with pitching gem, late RBI

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Eric Smorch was locked in a 1-2 count at the plate when Grosse Ile's baseball team was looking for an insurance run in the seventh inning. Just two innings earlier, he found himself in a 2-2 count before grounding out to fellow pitcher, Huron's Elijah Scott.

This time, Smorch just needed a little bit of Geico. He singled into left field, driving in his catcher, sophomore Don Mackowski, to continue the Devils' scoring threat in a 3-1 win over Huron.

"He made the joke last time we needed some insurance (runs); he did a little break down, said we needed some Geico here," Grosse Ile Coach Cliff Whitehouse said. "So I hollered that at him and he smiled.

"Kind of a bulldog hit, you know? Behind in the count, punch one over the second baseman's head and got it in, a little Texas-leaguer."

"I was in the same situation earlier in the game and I didn't come through," Smorch added. "When I had two strikes on me, I tried to shorten up even more and I just got it over that second baseman's head and dropped down and I did what I could."

Smorch was hitless at the plate before his RBI single in the seventh inning increased Grosse Ile's lead to two. But the leadoff hitter provided the Devils a much stronger impact on the mound.

He tossed a complete game, striking out two and allowing only one run on two hits. In 105 pitches, he issued three walks and hit two batters.

Huron Coach Dan Kalbfleisch spoke highly of Smorch's efforts on the mound. Opposing pitcher Scott, who faced Smorch three times, was equally impressed with his location.

"That kid is a tough little kid. Doesn't look like much, but he's a tough kid," Kalbfleisch said. "He throws well, throws a lot of strikes. He found his curveball in about the third inning. He couldn't really find it early and that's when we had to jump on him.

"Once he found his curveball, he was a bulldog out there. He was just eating us up. We were just pounding the ball into the ground."

Mackowski caught Smorch's two-hit gem on Tuesday, saying that he fearlessly located his pitches with a strong defense behind him. But Mackowski noticed something different from the team's ace.

"We have this saying, 'Why not us?'," Mackowski said. "Today, he pitched 'Why not me? Why can't I go the full game? Why can't I do it?'"

Smorch took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before seeing it broken up one out later. He took notice of it after looking up at Huron's massive left field scoreboard, but was more focused on getting his team the win.

"I think the batter right before it (was broken up), I noticed it," he said. "I realized that we had just broke up the other guy's, then mine obviously got broke up too. But I wasn't really worried about it with the score at the time."

Whitehouse took notice of the no-hitter's vanishing act in similar fashion.

"They looked up by me and they said, 'There goes the no-no,' he recalled. "I was like, 'Oh, there goes the no-no.' I wasn't thinking much about it and I bet Eric wasn't either. He's a gamer. He wanted the W more than he wanted the no-hitter."

Whitehouse has been through it all with Smorch during his four-year high school baseball career. Over the course of those four years, Whitehouse doesn't need to do much coaching with his ace on the mound. It was no different on Tuesday as the game progressed, even after the no-hit bid was broken up.

"There's not much coaching when he's out there," Whitehouse said. "I've worked on him quite a bit, I've coached him for four years now as his JV coach right on up when I got the varsity job. He's one of those kids that might coach every bit as me in a given day."

Smorch said he didn't know what to expect coming off spring break. A first career complete game turned out to be a pleasant surprise for a pitcher who aims for the goal each start.

"I mean, it sounds cliché, but I go out there every game trying to throw a complete game, save some arms for the next game," Smorch said. "I don't know, just so I can go all seven. I think this is the first time I've ever done it, though."

Last Updated: 4/29/2014 10:38:14 PM EST