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Bachtell, Flora show off power

June 25, 2006|by TRAVIS KING / Staff Correspondent

Home runs weren't exactly flying out at a rapid pace before the championship round of Saturday's Hagerstown Suns Little League Home Run Contest, and things didn't look to change even with the championship on the line.

Jake Bachtell and Rodney Flora changed all that.

Bachtell powered 10 pitches over the outfield tape - nine before ever recording an out - and outlasted Flora in the championship tiebreaker to claim the title at Municipal Stadium.

Flora was no pushover, however. His five home runs in the tiebreaker round would have won any other round in the two-day contest.

"I felt kind of sad when it was over," said Flora. "I finished second in the last home run derby, too. Jake is a good hitter, though, so I was sweating."

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Maugansville's Bachtell and Sharpsburg's Flora entered the final round alongside South Mountain's Justin Lewis, who finished second in Friday's preliminary round, and Clear Spring's Austin Yost, who advanced on Saturday via tiebreaker.

Lewis and Yost were the first two finalists to hit, with each failing to homer. Bachtell came up next and hit homers on his third, fifth and sixth swings.

"I felt good when I was done, but I still knew Rodney could hit them out if he wanted," Bachtell said.

Flora looked great, hitting a pitch to deep center field that landed closer to the warning track - well past the makeshift Little League fence - than any other home run hit on the day. He added two more longballs in the round, leaving him tied at three with Bachtell.

Both hitters entered a championship tiebreaker, getting five more outs to hit as many home runs as possible. Bachtell wasted little time blasting his way to a championship record.

"I knew there would be good competition today," Bachtell said. "So I knew I had to come prepared."

Flora would not go away quietly, though. All five of his home runs came before his third out, but he ran out of steam, giving Bachtell the championship trophy.

Yost won the third-place tiebreaker by hitting a homer on his first extra swing, while it took Lewis five swings to knock one out.

In Saturday's preliminary round, Flora, Yost and Federal's Charles Cvijanovich each homered twice to enter a three-way tiebreaker, with the top two hitters making it to the finals. Yost advanced in the first tiebreaker on his first extra swing, while Flora and Cvijanovich each needed four swings to power a pitch over the tape. In the second tiebreaker, Flora needed just one swing to homer and advanced when Cvijanovich could not match him.

Jordan Nicewarner of National Little League, Troy Umspacher of Conestoga Valley Little League and Ryan Burriss of South Berkeley Little League also competed in Saturday's first round.

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