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Braves fall in state final

August 19, 2002|by JACK HILL III

The Hagerstown Braves advanced to the championship game of the Maryland State Final Four at Municipal Stadium on Saturday by defeating the Westminster Falcons 6-2 in the first semifinal game.

But the Braves lost a 7-6 heartbreaker to the Tri-State Titans of Cumberland in the championship game.

The Titans (29-5) advanced to the title game by getting an 11-6 win over Tri-County from Cambridge in the second semifinal game.

The Maryland State Final Four was played one day after Reno Powell passed away at age 81. Powell was the founder of the Hagerstown Braves in 1977.

"We lost a good man when we lost Reno Powell the other day," Hagerstown player-manager Danny Cunningham said. "That has really put a lot of things in perspective. It would have been nice to bring home this title for Reno. He is going to be dearly missed."

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"We decided that when we got down here, we are not going to get away from here without a win," Titans manager Gary Bennett said. "We can hit with pretty much anybody if our pitching works. Any one of our hitters is capable of having a hot day. Derrick Hetz is usually a utility player, but he got six hits for the day."

Titans pitcher Brian Powell struck out eight batters and gave up only four earned runs to get the complete-game win in the championship game.

"The key for us in the championship game was Brian Powell," Bennett said. "Brian pitched a heck of a good ballgame. He came through for us in the clutch during the eighth and ninth innings. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on."

Zack Swisher got three hits and scored three runs, while Kevin Crawford and Chris Black added two hits each for Hagerstown (42-10) in the title game.

Braves pitcher Brian Renner got the complete-game victory in the semifinal game by striking out 10 batters and allowing just two runs.

Pat Sweeney, Jason Rhea and Swisher got two hits apiece for the Braves in the semifinal game.

"I want to thank our players for their dedication this summer," Cunningham said. "We accomplished a lot when we won the league championship. It has been a good season."

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