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Federal makes case by topping National

July 12, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

In Little League tournament baseball, wherever you hang your mitt, you call home.

The Federal 9-10 All-Stars have made a whistlestop tour of fields around Washington County since losing their opening game of the District 1 tournament. Today, the train will pull up to their front door.

Monday's stop: National. And Federal made itself feel right at home with six runs - all scored with two outs - in the third inning for an 8-2 victory, knocking National out of the winners' bracket and into a winner-take-all final today at 6 p.m.

"The whole time, I've been telling the team, 'Let's take it back to Federal ... Let's take it back to Federal,'" said Federal manager Charlie Wood. "Today, we did it."

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Federal played as the home team after winning the pregame coin toss, allowing them to sit in the home dugout and bat in the bottom halves of the innings. They used it to their advantage.

Federal put the pressure on National and starting pitcher Logan Appel in the third inning, but almost ended up with nothing to show for it.

Ryan Byard and Max Ober made sure the visiting, home-field advantage didn't go for naught.

With runners at first and second and none out, Josh Brown grounded to Appel, who held the runners before throwing for the out. After Andrew Yacyk reached to load the bases, Zane Schreiber grounded back to Appel for a force at home.

Byard tied the game with a flare single over the second baseman's head for an RBI to open the flood gates.

Teddy Schoeck and Dylan Dopson drew RBI walks to get the lead and Ober slapped a two-run single to center to make it 6-2. Kevin Proctor added an RBI single to left for a five-run cushion.

Federal sent 11 batters to the plate but only managed four hits. They forced Appel to throw 42 pitches in the inning, including 23 balls.

"You stand over in the coach's box in that situation, and sure, you worry a little, but that's the way it's been for us," Wood said. "Even with two outs, we still have a chance to score. Everybody on this team hits."

The rally took the wind out of National's sails, which was playing for the first time in nearly a week after blowing through the winners' bracket.

"I don't think the layoff hurt us," National manager Jeff Swope said. "The third inning killed us. We didn't play the best baseball. This wasn't the team I've been seeing all the way."

The lead was more than just comfortable for Schreiber, Federal's starting pitcher. He shut down National on 75 pitches over six innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out five. He shut National down after allowing two runs in the third and even escaped a bases-loaded situation of his own in the fifth unscathed.

Federal took a 1-0 lead in the second on Ober's single. National came back with two in the third on an RBI single by Dylan Appel and a run-scoring groundout by Aaron Roby before the bottom fell out.

Federal added an insurance run in the fifth when Ober, who finished with two hits and three RBI, walked and eventually scored on Alijah Benson's sacrifice fly.

"That's how it's been on our winning streak. Everyone has been a hero," Wood said. "Today it was Byard and Ober down in the bottom of the order. Tomorrow, it will be someone else."

With the win, National will get the chance to return the favor in today's championship game at Federal.

"We hope to do the same thing to them," Swope said.

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