Hagerstown's ready to PONY up

August 05, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

While the other three teams in the PONY East Zone Tournament have been criss-crossing the region in an effort to qualify over the past few weeks, Hagerstown's 'A' All-Stars have been practicing and waiting.

And practicing.

And waiting.

"The advantage is we are the home team," said Hagerstown manager Mark Koontz, whose team had an automatic spot in the bracket because it is hosting the tournament beginning tonight. "We have the fan support, and we know the field, how the lines play, what the bounces are. ... The advantage for the other teams is they've been playing. We've been practicing for almost a month, but our kids are ready to play."

They'll have to be, since the other teams - including one close to home, in Chambersburg (Pa.) - have already advanced through as many as four separate tournaments and are battle-tested.


Chambersburg will face Brooklyn (N.Y.) this evening at 5:30 in the tournament opener, followed by Hagerstown playing Western Branch (Va.) at 8. The double-elimination tournament will play out Saturday and Sunday, with the winner advancing to the PONY World Series in Washington, Pa. - a place Hagerstown has visited 10 times, the third most in World Series history, the last coming in 2002.

Koontz said Jake Pendergraft will get the start for Hagerstown in today's game.

"We're hoping he can set the tone," Koontz said.

Koontz said the strength of the team is up the middle, with catcher A.J. Jamison, middle infielders Adam Chambers and Cody Nelling, and center fielder Josh Conway leading the way.

"We like to be solid on defense, aggressive on the basepaths and we want to put the ball in play," Koontz said. "We're not worried about the long ball. If they make solid contact, that'll take care of itself. We hope to score a lot of runs. They're very capable of scoring and scoring in bunches."

Aside from Pendergraft, Brandon Knight, Seth Poffenberger, Kyle Stone, Conway and Jamison are all possibilities to toe the rubber.

"This is a very solid squad. I don't think there are any weaknesses up and down the lineup," Koontz said. "We just have to take care of business."

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