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ACE DELIVERS: Imbler's Jeff Smith gave up just four hits and struck out seven in the Panthers' playoff-opening win over Prairie City. (The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH).
ACE DELIVERS: Imbler's Jeff Smith gave up just four hits and struck out seven in the Panthers' playoff-opening win over Prairie City. (The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH).

By Bill Rautenstrauch

Staff Writer

Everything went right for the Imbler High School baseball team Thursday, as it defeated Prairie City, 12-1 in a first round District 8-2A playoff game at Optimist Field.

"Jeff (Smith) pitched well, we hit well, and making just one error was a real plus," Coach Monte McIntosh said after the victory, which was called in the fifth inning on the 10-run rule.

Smith, a senior right-hander, gave up a run in the first inning but dominated from then on, scattering four hits.

Imbler tied the score 1-1 in the bottom of the first when Travis Hoskins scampered home from third on a Prairie City throwing error.

Smith retired the side in order in the top of the second, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Imbler broke the game open in the bottom of the frame with four runs. Smith and and right fielder Chris Miller had two RBIs. Prairie City helped Imbler with four second-inning errors.

Trevor Crow and Daniel Johnson opened the bottom of the third for Imbler with back-to-back singles.

Miller drew a walk to load the bases, then Smith smacked a pitch deep and the Prairie City center fielder bobbled it. Two runs came home.

Imbler scored once more before the inning was out to take an 8-1 lead into the fourth.

Prairie City came up empty again, and in the bottom of the fourth Imbler scored four more runs, including two on a Johnson home run over the left-center fence.

Prairie City had a couple of men on with two out in the top of the fifth, but the rally died — and the game ended — with left fielder Justin Volle's diving, sliding catch of a Prairie City pop-up.

Coach McIntosh said his team was taking nothing for granted going into the playoff.

"I was hoping we'd handle them easily, but when you get to this point in the season, you never know. The other team can come back anytime."

Smith struck out seven Prairie City batters.

With the victory, Imbler advances to a second-round district play-off game with top- ranked Grant Union, 2 p.m. Saturday in Union.

In another district game Saturday, Joseph plays Nyssa.

Imbler 12, Prairie City 1

Prairie City 100 00 — 1 5 5

Imbler 143 4x —12 7 1

Waggoner and Rockhill; Smith and McIntosh.. WP — Smith. LP — Waggoner. Prairie City hits — Jackson 2, Waggoner, Voigt. Imbler hits — Hoskins, McIntosh, Crow, Johnson, Miller (2), Smith. 2B — McKinnis, Smith. HR — Johnson.


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