Conococheague spells relief 'C.J.'

July 13, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

WILLIAMSPORT - With Conococheague Little League's 11-12 All-Stars in a second-inning, bases-loaded jam against National Little League on Monday, manager Mike Iseminger turned to C.J. Hambleton for relief.

Good decision.

Hambleton gave up only one run while working out of the one-out predicament, then held National hitless until the sixth as Conococheague advanced to the Maryland District 1 losers' bracket semifinal with a 5-2 victory.

Casey McKenrick provided the offensive punch for Conococheague, sparking a four-run third inning with a two-run double, then hitting a solo home run in the fifth.


But it all started with Hambleton, who walked three, hit a batter and allowed Desiree Giffin's RBI single in the sixth, but otherwise held National at bay until Tyler Cline shut the door with the final two outs.

"C.J. pitched a good game against Oakland," Iseminger said. "He's got good control."

National took a 1-0 lead in the second on four walks - three by Conococheague starter Austin Taylor, who walked four in 1 1/3 innings while struggling to get his pitches down.

Hambleton inherited a 2-0 count on Blake Bandeff and threw two more balls to walk in a run, but induced two ground balls to get out of the inning and avoid further damage.

Conococheague broke out the bats in the third, stringing four of their seven hits together in the frame to take a 4-1 lead. Conner Arnone and Taylor started the inning with singles and Tanner Maloy doubled to the right-field gap to score Arnone. With one out, McKenrick doubled to the same gap to plate Taylor and Maloy.

Cline walked and later scored on a wild pitch for the fourth run of the inning - which ended only after National center fielder Chris Smith made a charging, diving grab of Hambleton's soft liner.

McKenrick's home run in the fifth was of the no-doubt variety, a rocket which landed well past the center-field fence.

"Tonight, they all came to play six innings," Iseminger said. "The other night at Maugansville, they didn't play their game. Tonight, they did."

National finished with just two hits and failed to capitalize on nine walks, stranding 10 runners on base in losing to Conococheague for the second time (the first was a 3-1 loss in the first round).

"The boxscore says it all," National manager Dick Sirbaugh said. "Ten runners left on base, that's it. ... (Conococheague is) a good team. They played us tough twice and beat us twice."

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