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National stays alive

July 09, 2003|by JACK HILL III

After giving up a second-inning solo home run to fall behind 1-0, National Little League 9 & 10 All-Stars pitcher Craig Oxyer could have given up.

Instead, he shook off the blow and helped National avoid elimination.

Oxyer threw a five-hitter and National scored five unanswered runs to eliminate West End Little League 5-1 Tuesday night in a District I Tournament losers' bracket game.

"I got a little bit down on myself when I gave up that home run," Oxyer said. "But after that, I was able to stay under control. I wanted to keep my head up. When they hit that home run, all of my teammates came up to me and said, 'We have your back.'"

Preston Smith's homer staked West End to the 1-0 lead, but Oxyer shut out West End the rest of the way. Oxyer struck out 10 in a complete-game effort.

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"When you practice hard, it will pay off," National manager Jeff Swope said. "Craig came out and pitched another good game for us. I thought that he threw his heart out."

National scored twice in the second inning to take the lead. James Jordan, who had two hits, led off with an infield single, Brandon Knight followed with a single and Jordan moved to third on a throwing error. Knight stole second base, and one out later, pinch-hitter Blake Bandeff delivered a two-run single.

National added two more runs in the third. Oxyer led off with a single and moved to third when Wes Samples reached on a fielding error. Oxyer came home on a passed ball and Samples eventually scored when Adrian Adams reached on a throwing error.

National scored its final run in the fifth when Adams and Jordan hit back-to-back doubles.

"All of the misplays in the field cost us the ballgame," West End manager Wink Suder said. "National has a great ballclub. ... They took advantage of our misplays and that was what the whole ballgame boiled down to."

National will travel to Halfway today for a losers' bracket game at 6 p.m.

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