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Rowland's 9-10 All-Star debut ends with victory

June 29, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

BOONSBORO - National Little League manager Mike Rowland made his All-Star coaching debut Wednesday night against South Mountain.

His debut was uneasy at times, but by game's end it turned out to be a pleasant welcome to the District 1 9-10 Tournament as National earned a 5-3 victory at Murphy Field.

National advances in the winners' bracket of the tournament and will host Conococheague today, while South Mountain moves to the losers' bracket and will host West End. Both games are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

"This is my first (All-Star game) ever," Rowland said. "I was a little nervous. It just wound out and wound out."

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After rain delayed the start of the game for an hour, Rowland couldn't relax in his first All-Star action as a manager. His first sigh of relief didn't come until the 18th and final out - and even that out was filled with suspense.

National carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but the first two South Mountain batters reached base - Tyler Hollis on a leadoff single and James Merson on a walk - to chase starting pitcher Josh Miller from the game.

Jeffrey Bennett relieved Miller and walked the next batter to load the bases with no outs. A South Mountain baserunning mistake got the lead runner thrown out at home and put runners on second and third with one out.

Bennett walked another batter to reload the bases, sending Rowland to the mound for a visit.

"He walked the first two guys and I went out to talk to him," Rowland said. "We got the infield together and I just said to play like we know how to play."

The chat worked - at least for Bennett.

Facing the top of the South Mountain order, he struck out the last two batters to preserve the win.

"You have to be in the game the whole time," said South Mountain coach Tony Hollis. "We waited until the last minute to play like we wanted to win. They just have to keep their heads in it for the whole game."

Baserunning mistakes - similar to the one in the last inning - plagued South Mountain for the whole game. Including the three men left on base to end the game, South Mountain stranded eight runners - five in scoring position.

Meanwhile, National took advantage of its opportunites on the basepaths, scoring five runs with only one coming on an RBI hit.

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