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South Mountain opens with a no-hitter

July 08, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

HANCOCK - The South Mountain Little League 11-12 All-Stars felt right at home on Hancock's field Friday night, and made their District 1 Tournament opener a memorable affair.

Ryan Robinson and Justin Lewis blasted solo home runs early, and Patrick Hollis struck out 12 in five innings before Lewis relieved him and finished off a no-hitter and a 10-1 South Mountain victory.

Hollis was dominant from the start, striking out eight of the first nine hitters he faced, primarily with a high fastball - often out of the strike zone - that baited Hancock's hitters into impatient swings.

"I was pretty much trying to think the batter's not there," Hollis said. "I was just trying to throw strikes. ... We had some runs up on the board. I pretty much don't think when I throw, I just throw it."

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"I was surprised the way Pat came out," South Mountain manager Danny Lewis said. "We all know what's he got when he's mentally focused."

Robinson led off the top of the second inning with a home run on a pitch he got jammed on. But he got enough of it, just clearing the fence to left-center field. Aaron Miranda later tripled just out of the reach of right fielder Levi Mellott near the foul line and scored on an infield error to make it 2-0.

Justin Lewis blasted a no-doubt homer to right-center in the third inning to make it 3-0.

"We have four or five (kids) who can hit the long ball, and the kids put pressure on themselves to hit one," Danny Lewis said. "As soon as we hit one, we relax."

"I don't think those homers hurt us," Hancock manager Paul Smith said. "We weren't out of it until we had that one inning."

That was the fifth inning, in which South Mountain took advantage of three singles - two of the infield variety - and two errors to score five runs and break the game open, 8-0. Cody Palmer drove in two with his bad-hop single over second baseman Nick Smartt, Miranda's infield single scored one and Lewis' sacrifice fly drove in another.

"All the runs except one came with the ball in the infield," Smith said. "We just didn't hit."

Lewis' two-run single in the sixth made it 10-1 and gave him four RBI, and he capped his night by striking out two in the bottom half to finish off the no-hitter, though three South Mountain errors in the inning led to Hancock's only run.

South Mountain will travel to West End for a winner's bracket quarterfinal today at 6 p.m. Hancock will travel to Federal for a loser's bracket game, also at 6 p.m.

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