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Hancock hangs on, ousts South Mountain

June 29, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

BOONSBORO - Casey Elbin showed why he's an all-star centerfielder, scooting far to his right to snag a drive off the bat of South Mountain's Spencer Griffin with the bases loaded and two out on Thursday, preserving Hancock's 8-7 victory in the Maryland District 1 9-10 Tournament losers' bracket on Thursday.

After being shut out by Conococheague on Wednesday, Hancock rebuffed thoughts of its season ending and will host National, a 12-5 winner over American, tonight at 6.

"I thought I was running from one side of Kansas to another," said Elbin. "I was thinking if I could get to the ball, I would catch it. I went so far. I'm just happy we get to go on."

South Mountain filled the bases on three walks from Hancock's Justin Barnard. Two of the walks came with one out, including an intentional pass to Evan Pettyjohn, who had a double, single and walk in his first three appearances.

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Griffin flied out to center in the fifth inning and he met the first pitch he saw from Barnard in the sixth squarely, lifting South Mountain's hopes until Elbin tracked down the fly ball short of the fence in left centerfield.

"I was nervous on that fly ball, but (Casey) is a very good outfielder," said Hancock manager Brian Mottern.

Hancock punched in the two runs it needed to get past South Mountain without the benefit of a hit in the last of the fifth inning.

With one out, South Mountain pitcher Devin Griffith issued back-to-back walks to Barnard and Jordan Tosten. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch and Barnard then scored when Tristan Douglas lifted an RBI sacrifice fly to center for a 7-7 tie. On the play, Tosten alertly moved to third and he scored what proved to be the winning run on another errant pitch.

South Mountain struck early with three runs in the first inning on three walks and RBI hits by Kyle Kidwell and Nathan Saunders, but Hancock took the lead right back with four in its half with plenty of help.

After a leadoff double by Jesse Wolford, Hancock was the beneficiary of five errors in the inning.

South Mountain gained a 6-5 lead in the top of the fourth on a Hancock throwing error and a single by Pettyjohn.

Trent Rider's infield single scored Wolford as Hancock made it 6-6 in its half of the fourth. South Mountain took a 7-6 lead in the fifth as Griffith singled and came around on three wild pitches.

"The kids played and you can't ask for anything else from 9- and 10-year-olds," said South Mountain manager Ron Hardy. "We had a couple of miscues and that was the difference."

Mottern looked into a crystal ball when it was time to replace starter Rider, who had reached his 75-pitch count limit. He called on Barnard.

"(Barnard) has pitched maybe two innings all year," said Mottern, "but three games in a row, you get stretched.

"We came back out today to play baseball and to get another game back home," he said.

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