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Valley makes the most of its opportunities

June 27, 2006|by TYLER KAHL / Staff Correspondent

If the Valley Little League All-Stars were nervous, they did a great job of hiding it.

After giving up an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning, the defense strung together five innings of nearly flawless play to defeat Halfway 8-1 in the first round of the Maryland District 1 9-10 All-Star Tournament on Monday.

"We've put a lot of work into our fielding," Valley manager Tim Hartsock said. "I told the pitchers to just go out there, throw strikes and trust the defense."

Hartsock used five pitchers.

"Because this was the first game, I wanted to use as many pitchers as possible to help eliminate the nerves," he said.

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Valley only had four hits, but used solid baserunning to make the most of every Halfway mistake.

Valley scored three runs in the top of the second inning to take the lead for good at 4-1. The only hit in the rally was Jared Tosten's leadoff single.

Nick Sauble had a game-high three hits for Halfway, and teammate Bobby Brennan added two, including a double for the only extra-base hit of the game. But Halfway stranded six runners on base.

Down 5-1, Halfway mounted its biggest threat in the bottom of the third. With one out and runners on first and second, Josh Wilson ripped the ball up the middle, but center fielder J.R. Rinehart came up gunning to force out Nick Sauble at second. Pitcher Timmy Hartsock then made a solid play on a dribbler off the bat of Hunter Maloy to end the threat.

"We just didn't get the right hits at the right time," Halfway manager Warren Sauble said. "I give (Valley) all the credit. They took advantage of their situations better than we did."

Halfway's pitchers allowed five walks and hit six batters.

"We had a tough time throwing the ball over the plate," said Sauble. "I think our guys were a little nervous out there."

Halfway hosts West End today in a losers' bracket game, while Valley hosts Federal in the winners' bracket.

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