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Conococheague 9-10s eliminated

July 25, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

BRUNSWICK, Md. - Opportunity knocked on the door. Conococheague's 9-10 All-Stars got their feet across the threshold but couldn't slam the door shut.

Four County, representing District 2, rallied to down Concococheague 9-5 on Monday to win the best-of-3 sectional series and earn a berth in the state tournament in Elkton, Md.

Concococheague, the District 1 champion, had Four County on the ropes in the second inning with a 3-0 lead, the bases loaded and none out. Only one run scored and subsequent efforts went fruitless while Four County came bouncing from behind.

"At that point in time you knew that would give (Four County) some momentum," said Conococheague manager Mike Iseminger. "If we could have scored some more runs we could have taken them out of the game early.

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"That's probably where we lost the game."

Conococheague started with a blast as pitcher Jack Kelly singled and Sterling Christy rocked a mammoth 230-foot home run to right field. Another run scored on a fielder's choice RBI by Brandon Toloso as Four County pitcher Matt Connelly fooled no one.

Connelly walked Wyatt Scriever and Tristan Baker to open the second and Kelly followed with another single that left the bases juiced.

However, Christy and Brandon Iseminger both fanned before Nick Williams singled to center to score Scriever for a 4-0 advantage.

Kelly, who pitched for the first time this year, made it through to the fifth inning when he was relieved by Brett Vitkun with Four County threatening to break a 4-4 tie.

Four County opened the top of the sixth with a ground ball to short right by K.C. Stipcak that was fielded cleanly by Brandon Iseminger, who threw to first for the out. But Vitkun surrendered a double and two walks to load the bases and Four County took the lead on an infield grounder to second base by Zach Wolfrey.

Baker fielded the ball cleanly but the throw home was late and Four County led, 5-4. Connelly, who belted a two-run homer in the third inning, delivered a two-run single and Four County's final two runs scored on wild pitches.

Conococheague finally solved the offerings of Four County relief pitcher Kyle Cochran, getting a run in the bottom of the sixth on a double by Vitkun, a throwing error and an infield RBI groundout by Scriever.

Cochran pitched 3 1/2 innings of relief and kept Conococheague batters off balance with a mixture of breaking balls and offspeed pitches from a herky-jerky motion.

"(Cochran) was tough to hit," said Mike Iseminger. "I think we were probably watching his motion more than the ball."

Conococheague also received three walks in the third inning but a double play wiped out some hopes and Cochran came into the game to record the third out of the inning.

With a state tournament berth on the line, Conococheague put its hopes on the arm of Kelly, who hadn't pitched since Minor League.

"I thought he pitched a very good game," said Iseminger. "We were able to work with him during the down time before the series. He's a relaxed kind of kid and we thought he would give us our best opportunity to win."

Kelly, through 4 1/3 innings, allowed six hits and two earned runs, walking one and striking out two, leaving his defense to work behind him.

One of the key components of that defense was Vitkun, who started an 8-4 double play in the first inning started and made a diving sno-cone catch in the fourth.

"It was a good game all-around," said Mike Iseminger. "This was my fifth, sixth year and this was the best group of kids I've been with. They had a great tournament run."

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