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National take stroll past Valley

July 06, 2005|by TRAVIS KING/Staff Correspondent

Normally, posting a 10-run lead would involve hot bats and lots of hard hitting. In Tuesday's District 1 9-10 Little League Tournament winner's bracket semifinal game, however, National Little League hardly needed to take its bats off its shoulders.

National batters walked eight times in five innings, jumping out to a 10-0 second-inning lead on the way to a 11-5 rain-shortened win over Valley Little League.

National got off to a quick start in the first inning, loading the bases on singles by Dylan Appel, Aaron Roby and Keith Johnson. After a strikeout and a fielder's choice that forced Appel out at the plate, Zachary Sines hit a two-run single to bring home Roby and Dalton Udovich and put the first runs on the scoreboard.

"(Sines) got it all started from the six-hole," said National manager Jeff Swope. "He's been clutch for us."

The lead increased in the second inning as National plated eight runs in the frame despite only three hits. Scott Bennett singled to start it and scored after each of the next three batters received walks. In all, 12 National players came to the plate in the second inning. Six were walked, including three with the bases loaded.

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"I just told them to be patient at the plate," Swope said. "We watched their pitchers throw before the game started, so we knew what to expect."

Johnson and Bennett hit RBI singles later in the inning to push the National lead to 10-0.

Valley scored two runs on singles by J.R. Rinehart and Ryan Bolton in the third inning.

National added to its lead in the fourth when Bennett scored on Roby's fielder's choice grounder. Valley came back with three runs in the fifth before the rain came and the game was called.

Winning pitcher Keith Johnson started out as sharp on the mound as his National teammates were at the plate. After walking Bolton to open the game, he induced a double play and then struck out three of the next five hitters he faced. He was removed after walking four in the fifth inning.

"We made a couple errors that led to a couple runs, but I thought Keith did fine," said Swope, who will lead his team into the winner's bracket final today against American Little League.

Johnson and Bennett each had two hits for National.

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