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Waynesboro takes it to limit

August 09, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Joey Wetherald and Ethan Rager aren't old enough to drive anything besides a baseball.

Still, they proved they know how to let out the clutch.

Wetherald and Rager helped put Waynesboro (Pa.) back in the driver's seat with a pair of two-strike, two-out hits to drive in five runs in a seven-run second inning. Waynesboro scored all of its runs in the game after two were out to shock Hagerstown Gray 13-3 Saturday in the semifinals of the Pony League East Zone Tournament at Funkhouser Park.

"The boys were in their zone today and Hagerstown didn't hit that well," Waynesboro manager Ed Kirkpatrick said. "We were just able to hop on Billy (Keyes) today."

Waynesboro roughed up Keyes, Hagerstown's starting pitcher, for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings, which ensured a one-game playoff between the two teams today at 2. The winner not only takes the Zone title, but wins the East berth in the Pony League World Series, which begins Saturday in Washington, Pa.

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Waynesboro won the losers' bracket title by defeating Danville, Va., 8-3 in Saturday's opener. It put Waynesboro in the position it needed to defeat Hagerstown twice for the title.

Waynesboro swung at first pitches on many occasions to ambush Keyes for a run in the first and seven in the second to build a 8-2 lead.

"Our pitching wasn't sharp and we weren't ready to come out and play today," Hagerstown manager Rick Suder said. "When you start getting pitches up in the zone, that's going to end up hurting you."

A.J. Freelove delivered a two-out single in the first for a 1-0 lead. Hagerstown got to Freelove for two runs in the second, though, on Nick Keller's two-run blast.

Then the bottom fell out on Keyes.

He opened by hitting Nick Sanders and Eli Rock with pitches after one out. Adam Caron loaded the bases with a two-out single, setting the stage for Wetherald.

Wetherald fell behind 1-2 before lacing a two-run single to left. Rager followed with a three-run homer to right on a 2-2 pitch to blow the game open at 6-2.

"I was just looking to hit the ball. A base hit meant runs," said Rager, who had five RBIs in the game. "We have been taking batting practice to get ready for fast pitching, so we were ready for anything."

Jesse Capino closed the inning with a two-run homer to center.

"I was surprised I got it," Capino said. "I wasn't hitting the ball earlier. I had been trying to kill the ball earlier. I just wanted to stay back and make contact."

Danny Fowler's RBI single moved Hagerstown to within 8-3 after three innings. But Waynesboro closed out the game with a run in the fourth and four in the fifth, highlighted by Rager's two-run double, to end the game via the 10-run rule.

In the opener, Rager fired six innings of no-hit pitching with 11 strikeouts and hit a solo homer in the third to lead Waynesboro.

"We came in here today just wanting the chance to beat Hagerstown once," Kirkpatrick said. "We did it, and anything can happen now."

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