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Bachtell, Lewis reach finals of Suns' contest

June 24, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Justin Lewis and Jake Bachtell knew their time had come.

Lewis could just feel it. Bachtell couldn't.

That feeling, or lack thereof, spelled the difference for both batters Friday when the moment of truth hit, and they each advanced to today's finals of the annual Hagerstown Suns Little League Home Run Hitting Contest at Municipal Stadium.

Bachtell, representing Maugansville Little League, topped the list of six first-round contestants with four homers while South Mountain's Lewis hit two and advanced by winning a three-way tiebreaker by hitting a homer on his third extra swing.

On that third cut, Lewis knew it was his last chance to put an end to the contest and advance.

"It was real tough," Lewis said. "I was nervous because I had to wait, but being able to see the others hit before me, it made it a little easier because I knew what I had to do."

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Conococheague's Zach Lucas and South Mountain's Cody Palmer moved into the tiebreaker by hitting two homers in regulation. Each hitter was given 10 outs in the preliminary round. Any swing that didn't produce a home run was an out.

In the tiebreaker, the hitters had up to 10 swings to hit a home run. Lewis hit his out on the third swing, while Lucas needed four and Palmer took all 10 tries.

"After the second swing, I knew I had to beat (Lucas)," Lewis said. "I needed to do it right then to move on. This is big for me to advance because I'm only 11 and most of the guys hitting were 12."

Bachtell took care of business in the preliminary round, hitting homers on his first, seventh, eighth and 12th swings.

And he knew it because he didn't feel a thing.

"When you hit a home run, you can't feel it go off the bat," said Bachtell, who has hit eight homers for Ruritan this season. "When you hit it, you just know. That's how it felt here."

Bachtell, 12, was representing Maugansville in a third straight home run hitting contest. All players advanced to this contest by winning their leagues' contests. Bachtell won the Suns contest in 2004, when it was a single-day event.

"I just got the timing down," Bachtell said. "My grandfather told me before it started to wait and get my pitch. I did, but it's hard because the waiting makes you anxious and you just want to go up there and get it over with."

The final two hitters - Ryne Willard of Valley and Evan Coblentz of Halfway - failed to homer in the preliminary round.

The final six contestants will get their swings in the preliminary round today at 5:30 p.m. with the top two hitters, immediately advancing to meet Bachtell and Lewis in the finals.

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