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City all-stars begin PONY World Series play

August 12, 2000

City all-stars begin PONY World Series play



By DAN KAUFFMAN / Staff Writer


It's an exciting time for Hagerstown's PONY League baseball community.

The city's All-Star team of 13- and 14-year-olds has advanced through the District, Sectional, Regional and East Zone tournaments and is one of eight teams competing in the PONY World Series in Washington, Pa., for the right to be called world champions.

The youngsters who play on the team are thrilled to be in the running.

"It's exciting to be able to get there," said Ben Jordan. "Once you think about it, it hits you more."

"I'm real excited that we got this far and we'll get to play in front of a big crowd," said David Minor.

"I'm excited to be going down there with everyone else, happy to be on one of the top eight teams in the world," said Luther Davis. "I don't think I'll ever have a chance to do this again."

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Leading the kids is manager Rick Suder.

"It's exciting. I'm like a big kid with all the little kids," Suder said. "Our coaches (Wayne Hose and Rusty Robinson) are the same."

Suder's first appearance at the World Series was in 1995 - when Hagerstown lost in the championship to Bayamon, Puerto Rico, which is also back for this year's Series. The 2000 Hagerstown team is the third Suder has led to Washington.

"You get this far, it doesn't have a lot to do with coaching," Suder said, shrugging off his accomplishments.

What Suder can take some credit for is the approach of this year's squad. It's a laid-back bunch of kids who love to compete and have fun.

"All the kids are great to be around," said Nick Adenhart, the only 13-year-old on the team. "We hang around each other at the hotels. It doesn't matter who you're with, you're going to have a great time."

Team member Tim Kellinger will enjoy the experience at least in part for a different reason.

"My brother (Keith) went in 1998, so I've been there," Kellinger said. "Now my brother is wishing he were there."

While this year's team is thrilled to get the chance to compete at the World Series, they know their work is not finished. Come tonight, when they open play against host Washington at 8, this team says it will be all business.

"It's a level-headed group," Suder said. "They don't show emotion before the tournament or during it. ... A lot of World Series teams get lost in the moment. These guys are pretty focused."

Hagerstown has a lot going for it most teams don't. Suder has five pitchers - Adenhart, Jordan, Josh Mitchell, T.J. Hose and Chris Smith - he uses on a regular basis.

"We have two or three guys that bring nothing but heat, we have a couple of junk ballers ... we've got guys that can bring it from the left side or the right," Suder said.

"Even if we get in trouble with a pitcher, there's always someone who can come in, and someone who can go the next game," Jordan said.

That pitching depth carried Hagerstown through the District and Sectional tournaments, the latter which gave the team its toughest challenge. Hagerstown's only loss came against Chambersburg (Pa.) in the Sectionals.

"Our second tournament, I never thought we'd make it," Mitchell said. "That day (the loss) was the day everyone jelled together. We knew what we had to do, and we just had to go do it."

Since then, Hagerstown has gone undefeated, outscoring its opponents 27-3 in the East Zone tournament to earn its ticket to Washington.

"We're peaking at the right time," Suder said. "We started off in our districts, and we've come a long way."

There's just one more step to go - the world championship - and they don't want anything less.

"That's been the goal the whole time," Mitchell said. "This isn't anything until you win. (Otherwise), it's just a long drive home."

"We want to win it, win it all," Jeremy Everitts said.

But the team will still enjoy the experience along the way, right?

"Yeah, a lot," Everitts said with a grin.

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