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Conococheague survives again

July 18, 2000

Conococheague survives again



ConococheagueTeam scores in its final at-bat to eliminate Federal in 11-12s

By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

WILLIAMSPORT - For the second night in a row, when John Combs stepped to the plate for Conococheague, the scoreboard rang Cono-'ka-ching.'

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Combs lined a one-out bases-loaded single over the second base bag in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Conococheague a 5-4 victory over Federal in the District I Little League Tournament.

Conococheague travels to West End at 6 tonight in the loser's bracket final. The winner goes to South Mountain Thursday in the tournament final.

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"I'll take those little line drives any day," said Conococheague manager Mark Bodnar. "John's been the hero the last two nights."

The drama began in the fifth inning, when Conococheague scored two unearned runs to knot the score at 3-3. Philip Jordan and Aerik Taylor both reached on Federal errors.

With Jordan on third, Ryan Lee lifted a long fly to center, scoring Jordan, and then Combs sent a towering double into the rightfield corner to plate Taylor.

Lee earlier put Conococheague on the scoreboard with a solo home run to left centerfield in the second inning.

"Ryan Lee has been our best power hitter in the tournament," Bodnar said, "and he's played a solid third base every game."

Blake McCoy started Federal's sixth with a base hit to right that got by the rightfielder, leaving McCoy standing on third with no outs.

One out later, Dean Staley singled off the glove of Jordan on the mound to put runners on the corners. Mark Dattilio sent a hard grounder to first that Combs stabbed, stepped on first and threw to second where Taylor tagged Staley for the inning-ending double play.

But, after a consultation with the rest of the umpiring crew, the home plate umpire ruled that McCoy had crossed home plate before the final out.

Since the play at second was no longer a forceout, the run counted and Federal had a one-run lead.

Nick Bodnar singled through the hole at second to start the bottom of the sixth and advanced to second on a passed ball. Tyler Beard bunted down the third base line and pitcher Fred Kreiger threw the ball past first base. Bodnar scored to tie the game and set up Combs' heroics.

Federal took a two-run lead in the first inning with only one hit, an infield single by Kevin Brashears. Kreiger led off and got hit by a pitch and then alertly took third on Brashears' hit when he saw no one covering the bag.

Harrison Hammond's fielder's choice brought in Kreiger and then Hammond make the circuit on three wild pitches from Jordan.

Federal added a solo run in the second when a fielder's choice off the bat of Brashears brought in Dattilio to give Federal a 3-0 lead.

"Federal played their butts off," Mark Bodnar said. "They are a very well-coached team. But our boys, they don't quit. They played as a team and cheered each other on. Tonight was a team effort."

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