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West End eliminated by Thurmont

July 24, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

BALTIMORE - The West End Little League 11-12 All-Star team's hunt for a Maryland State Tournament championship at Arbutus Little League turned into an unfulfilling weekend trip.

West End lost its first game to Salisbury on Saturday and was eliminated from the tournament on Sunday, dropping a dramatic 5-4 seven-inning decision to District 2 champion Thurmont.

Kellam Maxey hit the game-winning solo home run in the top of the seventh and Thurmont pitcher Josh Laramore survived the muscle of the West End lineup in the bottom half to seal the win.

Laramore gave up a leadoff single to Zach Rowland before retiring the third, fourth and fifth hitters in the West End lineup, beginning with slugger Aaron Stoner, who came up about 15 feet short of the game-winning home run.

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"I thought it was gone," Laramore said of Stoner's flyout to left.

There was no questioning Maxey's shot, which sailed over the fence in right-center field with room to spare.

"Kellam played for me in the regular season," said Thurmont manager Jeff Ellis. "Before the season, I tried to tell him that he's not a home run hitter and that he needs to just focus on putting the ball in play.

"Then on opening day he hit one and when he came around third base, he smirked and said, 'Don't tell me I'm not a home run hitter.'"

Maxey said it was his 11th home run this year and third as an All-Star.

Thurmont trailed West End until the top of the sixth, when it scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead.

Laramore tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI double, Garrett Ellis followed with an RBI single and Brent Sweeney made it 4-2 with a sacrifice fly.

West End answered in the bottom half on a two-run double by Scott Boppe. But Boppe was stranded at third base to force extra innings. West End also stranded the tying run at third in the seventh.

"This has been a completely different team since we came down here," said West End manager Mike Houser. "We played more our style of game today than (Saturday) but it just wasn't enough."

The game started out promising for West End. In the first, Brandon Hess hit a two-out single to score Rowland, before Stoner caught the Thurmont defense napping and scored on a return throw to the pitcher for a 2-0 lead.

Stoner started and held Thurmont hitless through two innings. He was forced to leave the game with a sore pitching arm after only 21 pitches.

"His arm has been sore and bothering him for about the past week," Houser said. "He can usually throw in the 70s, but he wasn't today."

Brandon Hess relieved Stoner and pitched a scoreless third before the first chip in the West End defensive armor in the fourth. Nathan Murray committed a two-out error at shortstop, allowing Laramore to score from third and Thurmont to cut the lead to 2-1.

Hess retired Thurmont in the fifth, but gave up the lead in the sixth and Maxey's home run in the seventh.

"When we came here, our defense was great," Houser said. "Pitching and defense was what got us here. We didn't have it today."

Stoner finished with two hits for West End. Hess struck out five in five relief innings.

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