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Conococheague forces a rubber match

July 06, 2007|By TRAVIS KING / Staff Correspondent

CHEWSVILLE - Neither rain nor impending darkness could stop Conococheague Little League from handing Valley Little League its first loss in the Maryland District 1 9-10 All-Star Tournament - a 6-4 victory backed by Wyatt Scriever's fourth home run in as many playoff games.

The teams will meet for a third time in the tournament in the championship game Sunday at 6 p.m. at Conococheague.

After a scoreless first inning, Conococheague loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning by drawing three walks off Valley starter Boo Jordan and reliever Hunter Martin.

After Lightning and steady rains delayed the game for about 40 minutes, Sinjin Shoop - the first Conococheague batter after play resumed - reached base on an error and Mike Kelbaugh crossed the plate to score the first run of the game.

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"The rain did screw us up a little," said Valley manager Tim Hartsock. "We had to use pitching we didn't really want to use yet. Our fear was that if the game finishes in a tie, we'll be all out of pitching."

Conococheague added two more runs in the third inning. J.J. Cooper led off with an infield single, Jordan Stonebreaker followed with a double and Blake Harne singled in Cooper. Three batters later, Shoop drew a bases-loaded walk to give his team a 3-0 lead.

Harne, starting for Conococheague, pitched his first three innings with ease, facing the minimum nine hitters. Martin, the only Valley baserunner through the third, doubled and was caught stealing to end the second inning.

"Our pitching really helped us out," said Conococheague manager Mike Iseminger. "We try to keep the other team's offense off balance, and Blake really shut them down through the first three innings."

"In the first few innings, we hit the ball right to them and we thought it would change as the game went on," said Hartsock. "We just couldn't get ahead."

As the rain tapered off in the fourth, Valley wasted no time tying the game. With one out, Timmy Hartsock walked and Boo Jordan singled. Two Conococheague errors and a Tanner Bachtell RBI single later, the game was tied at 3.

Conococheague took the lead again with a run in the fourth when Connor Renn doubled in Scriever. In the fifth, Riley Arnone walked and Scriever followed with a two-run homer to give Conococheague needed insurance runs as the threat of darkness loomed.

"I was just trying to get a hit, so I was really excited to do that for my team," Scriever said.

"We're not comfortable with any lead," said Iseminger. "I told them to just focus and keep their eye on the ball as it got dark out."

Valley attempted a comeback in the sixth inning, but got just one run across the plate before Stonebreaker struck Joey Schwartz out to end the game and force a rubber match between the teams.

Conococheague managed just six hits in the game, two coming from Scriever, but took advantage of 11 walks between four Valley pitchers.

Martin had two of Valley's three hits in the game.

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