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Hagerstown advances in PONY zone

August 07, 2004|by CHRIS CARTER/Staff Correspondent

Good defense often can compensate for a sputtering offense.

That theory can also work in the opposite order, as the Hagerstown All-Stars found out Friday in the opening round of the PONY East Zone Tournament at Funkhouser Park.

Hagerstown committed four errors in the first half of the game, but got three home runs in the last half to knock off North Park (Mass.) 10-5 to advance to the winners' bracket semifinal against Greenbrier (Va.), which defeated Chambersburg 6-2 earlier in the day.

"We knew we had a lot of solid hitters coming in here," Hagerstown manager Steve Cromer said. "The defense was the surprising thing. We usually don't make the kind of mistakes we made today."

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After Hagerstown grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Tim Leather, North Park capitalzed on two Hagerstown fielding errors to plate three runs.

Hagerstown got a run back in the second when Tommy Evans reached on a throwing error and later scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 3-2.

Two more Hagerstown errors in the third led to another run for North Park and a 4-2 advantage.

Then the Hagerstown bats came alive.

Winning pitcher Aaron Mills led off the fourth with a home run to left-center field. After Evans and Kevin Kocsis reached on infield hits, pinch-hitter Danny Reed launched a three-run homer to give Hagerstown a 6-4 lead and all of the momentum.

"That's probably the biggest bat we have on our bench," Cromer said. "That sequence was absolutely the turning point. It gave us all the momentum."

It also gave Mills his first lead to work with and he seized it.

Mills needed just eight pitches to sit North Park down in order in the bottom of the fourth and he didn't allow a run until the seventh, when the game was well in hand.

"Aaron gave us some good innings, but we expect that from him," Cromer said. "He got the job done."

Hagerstown led 7-4 going into the seventh, but a run-scoring single by Mills and a two-run homer by Evans gave Hagerstown a six-run lead, virtually ending any chances of a North Park comeback.

Mills scattered six hits and finished with nine strikeouts, while Jared Ferguson and Leather each had two hits for Hagerstown.

Chambersburg faces North Park in an elimination game today at 3, with the Hagerstown-Greenbrier game following at 5:30. The winner of the first game plays the loser of the second game at 8.

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