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Survival test

So. Mountain advances, eliminates Federal

So. Mountain advances, eliminates Federal

July 16, 2002|by JACK HILL III

BOONSBORO - After watching a 7-0 lead go by the wayside and being forced into extra innings by Federal Little League, South Mountain Little League's 11-12 All-Stars wasted little time catching what they almost let get away.

Paul Merson's three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning sent South Mountain to a 12-7 victory over Federal in a District 1 loser's bracket semifinal Monday evening.

"The kids played their hearts out," South Mountain manager Terry Hartle said. "We never gave up."

Then again, neither did Federal.

South Mountain (3-1) advances to the losers' bracket final tonight at Oakland at 6 p.m. The winner of that game will play at West End on Wednesday night in the championship round.

South Mountain scored seven runs in the second inning, only to watch Federal roar back. Behind three hits from Andrew Stout - including a two-run homer in the fifth - and two hits from David Bowen, Colin McWilliams and Nathan Harden, Federal tied the game.

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"Our kids battled and they showed true heart and competitive spirit," Federal manager Barry Brown said. "I couldn't ask for more. All we needed was one break here or there and we were going to Oakland tomorrow. But I give all the credit to South Mountain's team."

Instead of collapsing under the newfound pressure, South Mountain thrived. John Shobe started the seventh with a walk, and Shane Lowery reached on a bunt single down the first base line - his third bunt single of the game.

Merson then blasted a three-run homer to left, giving his team the lead and, ultimately, himself a victory in relief.

"I wasn't trying to get a home run, I was just trying to get the hit," Merson said. "When I saw it go out, I was real happy. I think we went out there and just tried to get a bunch of runs in the seventh inning."

Errors allowed South Mountain to add on two more runs, and Merson retired five of the six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings - four on strikeouts - to end the game.

Merson had three hits and five RBI for South Mountain.

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