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Bowers' power paces Conococheague over National

July 20, 1999|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Josh Bowers' leadoff homer wasn't enough to keep National Little League's All-Stars down.

So Bowers unloaded a more powerful blow an inning later.

Bowers' three-run blast in the second gave Conococheague a 4-3 lead, paving the way to a 10-6 victory over National in a District 1 11-12 elimination bracket quarterfinal game on Monday.

Bowers' two homers gave Conococheague enough momentum to withstand Brian Gossard's three-run shot in the fifth.

"We just wanted to get off the bat hitting the ball good, so we could keep them down," Bowers said. "They did a pretty good job coming back."

Bowers' game-opening shot gave Conococheague a 1-0 lead, but National countered with three runs in the top of the second. Jeremy McAfee, A.J. Bandeff, Gossard and Brad Crouse all singled before a Conococheague error allowed the third run.

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But Bowers drilled a drive to left-center field in the second to give Conococheague the lead for good.

"We were already down 3-1, and we really needed some momentum," Bowers said. "I guess that's what put us on."

"Having Josh start out the way he started out ... he's been a big help here today," Conococheague manager Andy Taylor said.

Conococheague used two National errors in the fourth to score three runs for a 7-3 lead.

"We haven't made those kinds of mistakes all year," National coach Greg Palmer said. "It just seems that when things are going the other team's way, they just go."

National made a run in the fifth when, after a Patrick Hutzler double and a Jeremy McAfee single, Gossard homered to straightaway center to make it 7-6.

But Conococheague responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, including RBI singles from Kenny Singhas and Jeff Ragland, to put the game away.

"They couldn't quite get it together ... I don't know, they just seemed down tonight," Palmer said.

"We told them we were very proud of them. We couldn't ask for any more out of them, and it was their game. It was up to them to lose it or win it."

Conococheague pitcher Andy Taylor struck out 11 and yielded nine hits and one walk to earn the win.

Conococheague travels to Oakland for a elimination bracket semifinal game today at 6 p.m.

"It's a long ride," Bowers said.

Then he reflected on the tournament. "It seems like the further we go, the harder it gets."

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