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Oakland peaks in time to scale South Mountain

July 14, 2005|by CHRIS CARTER /Staff Correspondent

BOONSBORO - For the first five innings of its Maryland District 1 11-12 Tournament game, South Mountain withstood everything Oakland could muster.

But the sixth inning, that was a different story. South Mountain finally cracked.

Oakland scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to stun South Mountain 5-4 and remain alive in the losers' bracket of the tournament. Oakland travels to meet Maugansville in the losers' bracket semifinal tonight at 6.

"We're used to close games like this," Oakland manager Jason Shreve said. "They played a good game. I'm just happy we got the win."

Five of the six runners Oakland stranded in the first five innings were in scoring position. Things changed quickly in the sixth.

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Trailing 4-3, Oakland's Tyler Sweitzer opened the inning with a walk. South Mountain manager Scott Hardy responded by lifting starting pitcher Andrew Webber, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with a strikeout - his 11th of the game.

"I had planned on taking (Webber) out to start the sixth, but he just got out of a jam and I told him I'd let him go for it," Hardy said. "Once the first runner got on I could tell he was tiring, so I made the change."

Facing a new pitcher, Bubba Scheffel grounded to shortstop, but the throw to second sailed wide, allowing Sweitzer to take third and Scheffel to move to second.

After an infield popout, Cory Helbig hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Sweitzer to tie the score at 4-4 while sending Scheffel to third base.

With two outs, Calvin Hilliard, Oakland's cleanup hitter, popped the first pitch he saw to shallow center field. Three South Mountain fielders closed in, but the ball fell in for a hit. Scheffel ran on contact and easily scored, giving Oakland the dramatic win.

"It's definitely a tough one to lose because the kids played their hearts out," Hardy said. "(Oakland) plays good, fundamental baseball and they deserved to win."

Although Oakland got the final say, things didn't look so promising early.

South Mountain struck first when Ryan Robinson walked and scored on a throwing error in the second inning for a 1-0 lead.

Oakland threatened in the bottom of the inning with runners on second and third, but Webber fanned the final two batters to escape.

South Mountain added to the lead in the third with a two-run single by Robinson and an RBI groundout by Patrick Hollis to make it 4-0.

It must have been a wake-up call because Oakland finally got on the board in the bottom of the third.

Scheffel started the inning with an infield single, followed by a walk by Zack Knotts. Helbig cashed in by crushing a two-strike fastball well over the left-field fence and into the trees to pull Oakland to within 4-3.

"We were trying to give (Helbig) some high heat, but it dropped into the zone and he jumped on it," Hardy said.

Webber retained the one-run lead through the fourth and fifth innings, before Oakland surged again in the sixth to take the win.

Oakland reliever Ryan Bennett pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Helbig finished with four RBI and Scheffel had two hits.

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