Western Branch takes ride on PONY express

August 08, 2005|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

The battle lines were drawn when West Branch and Hagerstown met on Sunday.

The two teams pulled out all the stops, if a combined 32 runs, 30 hits and nine home runs mean anything.

But when the battle was over, West Branch, out of Chesapeake, Va., won the war. West Branch used Ben Horan's grand slam and Jordan Kidd's two-run homer in the middle innings to provide too much of a lead for Hagerstown to overcome for a 17-15 victory to win the PONY League East Zone championship at Funkhouser Park.

Western Branch finished 3-0 in the double-elimination tournament to win a berth in the PONY League World Series in Washington, Pa.


"It was unreal," Western Branch manager Bubba Horan said. "I was a player with the same organization. I have been trying to get to the World Series for 31 years, since I have been playing Little League. I am now 38 years old. I have never made it as a player. And now to make it with my son, in his final year of eligibility, is absolutely a dream come true."

Western Branch held an 11-10 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth inning before Ben Horan's slam provided a five-run advantage. Kidd added his two-run shot in the fifth as Western Branch pulled out to a 17-10 lead.

"Hard work and batting practice every day was the key to our offensive production," Bubba Horan said. "My offense has been phenomenal throughout the tournament. I feel very fortunate to beat a quality team like Hagerstown."

Chase Marchetti and Tyler Manugo also homered for Western Branch, while Jordan Long and Manugo collected three hits each. Long went 9-for-11 for an .819 batting average in the Zone tournament with two home runs, five RBI and six runs scored.

Hagerstown (2-2) didn't go down without a fight, scoring five runs in the sixth to move within two runs of the lead. A.J. Jamison, Cody Nelling and Tyler Stevens belted solo homers and Andrew Duff added a two-run single, but Hagerstown could move no closer.

Hagerstown made its presence felt early in the game as Stevens hit a two-run homer and Adam Chambers hit a grand slam. Stevens finished the tournament 6-for-12 with five home runs and 10 RBI.

"The kids came out fired up and they played hard," Hagerstown manager Mark Koontz said. "They just came up a little bit short at the end. We take our hats off to Western Branch. They just hit the ball a little bit better. They were able to put the ball in play a little more consistently."

Hagerstown reached the championship round on Saturday when Nelling had a two-run homer and a two-run single in a 9-8 win over Bergen Beach (N.Y.). Seth Poffenberger and Duff added two hits each for Hagerstown.

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