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Valley peaks at right time

11-12 All-Stars top powerful American in winners' bracket championship game

11-12 All-Stars top powerful American in winners' bracket championship game

July 13, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Valley Little League withstood all American Little League had to throw at it - including three monstrous home runs, two by Nick Stubbs - and scored seven runs in the final two innings, including five in the decisive sixth, for a 9-5 victory in the winners' bracket final of the Maryland District 1 11-12 Little League Tournament on Tuesday evening.

The victory secures Valley a spot in the championship game at home on Saturday, and the team that emerges from the losers' bracket will have to beat Valley twice to win the title.

"The big motivation was to play the championship game at home," Valley manager Tim Hartsock said.

American's consolation prize is a spot in the losers' bracket final at home on Friday. A victory in that game would give American another crack at Valley.

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"That's the good news," American manager Ted Casper said. "We played tough and blew up at the end."

Valley took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first behind Zane Garver's leadoff single, a walk, an error and Nick Martin's RBI groundout.

American countered with the next four runs, all on home runs. Stubbs hit his first in the bottom of the first, a two-run laser that never got higher than 15 feet, yet still made it over the fence in left. Corey Ballard hit a moonshot a good 40 feet beyond the fence in left-center field in the third, and Stubbs lifted his second homer out to center later in the inning.

"We knew Stubbs could hit," Hartsock said. "You take your chances with him every time that the ball may go out."

"We thought (we) might be getting a little flat and uptight, but as hard as we practice, we know we're never out of a game," Hartsock said.

Valley missed an opportunity when it left the bases loaded without scoring in the fourth. But in the fifth, an error and a single by Ryne Willard set the stage for Aaron Schroyer, whose two-out, two-run single to right tied the game at 4-4 and changed the momentum.

"It was definitely big," Hartsock said.

"I wasn't really worried at that point with Nick and the others coming up (in the bottom half)," Casper said. "I thought they could get a run or two, but our pitchers couldn't make it stand up."

American did retake the lead in the bottom half, as Stubbs finished off his day by doubling to right, stealing third and scoring on an error to make it 5-4.

But Valley countered with blow after blow in the sixth, with a little help from an American error, three walks and a couple wild pitches. Willard's RBI double and Ben Daniels' RBI single were the biggest hits.

Daniels came and pitched a perfect bottom of the sixth to slam the door.

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