National marches onward

July 26, 2005|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

National Little League showed that patience at the plate can help batters draw a lot of walks.

National drew a total of 10 bases on balls Monday night, including six in a 10-run second inning, on the way to a 12-2 victory over Brunswick in the Maryland 9-10 Section 1 Tournament championship game at Staley Park.

"Before the ballgame, I told the boys that we had to have baserunners," National manager Jeff Swope said. "I made them all look at the first pitch. They were too anxious and too excited in the previous games. The patience paid off big time. It gave our boys a little bit more confidence when we built a big lead. It wasn't a lot, but we got a few hits at the right moments."

National advances to the Maryland State 9-10 Tournament at South Baltimore Little League. Its first game is Saturday at 4 p.m. against the Section 2 champion. The four-team double-elimination tournament runs through Aug. 3.


National pitcher Keith Johnson allowed just two hits and struck out six to get the four-inning complete-game victory.

"Keith Johnson did a wonderful job for being on the mound for the first time in about two weeks," Swope said. "He had good control for a guy who hadn't been on the mound for a while."

Aaron Roby had two of National's three hits, both of which came during the second-inning rally, and three RBI. Johnson had National's only other hit.

"It is a good group of young men," Swope added. "They played their hearts out to get here and all of the hard practices paid off for them. They never gave up."

Brunswick led 2-0 after the top of the first, but National tied the score in the bottom of the inning when Johnson got an RBI single and Zachary Sines was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

National put the game out of reach with its 10-run second inning. Roby drove in three runs with an RBI single and a two-run double. Three of the six walks that National received in the second came with the bases loaded.

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