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American 9-10 All-Stars in winners' bracket final

June 30, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

CHEWSVILLE - Some people in the baseball world consider a walk to be as good as a hit.

American Little League manager Ted Casper would rather take his chances.

Casper gave cleanup hitter Alex Brooks the green light on a 3-0 count in the bottom of the second inning, and Brooks justified the call by belting a two-run home run down the left-field line to highlight a seven-run inning and boost American past Valley Little League 11-1 in a winners' bracket semifinal of the District 1 9-10 Tournament at Aaron Steiner Field on Thursday.

American advances to the winners' bracket final tonight at 6 p.m. at Conococheague, while Valley must battle through the losers' bracket beginning Saturday.

Brooks was one of three players to take a swing with a 3-0 count. The results were a walk (earned later in the at-bat), Brooks' home run and a sacrifice fly.

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"I have confidence in my hitters," Casper said. "I don't want them to stand up there and wait for a walk. I know they can hit the ball. All I do is let them."

Despite the aggressive approach, American drew five walks and struck out only once. And a ball in play meant trouble for Valley, which appeared befuddled and out of sync on defense.

After Brooks singled in Anthony Morton with two outs in the first inning, he took two bases on an overthrow from the outfield. Trace Russ followed with a walk and bolted toward second, drawing a late throw to allow Brooks to score from third and give American a 2-0 lead.

The defensive lapses continued during American's seven-run second inning. Valley suffered four errors in the frame and seven in the game.

"We base everything on not having confusion in the field," said Valley manager Tim Hartsock. "It's about being where we're supposed to be and being composed.

"We lost our composure out there."

American had five consecutive batters reach base before an out was recorded in the second. Even that out cost Valley, as Morton's sacrifice fly scored a run and induced an errant throw that scored another to give American a 6-0 lead.

Brooks' homer made it 8-0 and Tyrus Fleetwood scored the ninth run after two errors and two passed balls.

A run-scoring double by Morton gave American a 10-0 advantage after three innings.

Valley escaped a 10-run-rule loss in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI triple by Colby Messersmith to cut the gap to 10-1.

But Valley subsequently met that demise with one out in the bottom of the fifth when Morton hit a walk-off RBI single.

Brenden Colbert scattered four hits over five innings to pick up the victory for American. Morton finished with two hits and three RBI, while Brooks also drove in three.

"They're a good team and they hit the ball well," Hartsock said. "Hopefully we'll see them again."

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