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Rice helps American relax in win

July 07, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Nothing calms the nerves of 11- and 12-year-olds quite like a five-run first inning.

Jimmy Rice's line-drive, three-run homer and Tyler Maust's two-run double staked American Little League to a 5-0 lead, and American withstood Ean Stine's two home runs to defeat South Mountain 12-6 in the first round of the Maryland District 1 11-12 All-Star Tournament at Brandenburg Memorial Park on Friday.

"That (home run) helped them relax," said American manager Rod Wilson. "As long as they come to play, they're going to be hard to beat."

American will host Clear Spring today at 2 p.m. South Mountain will host a losers' bracket game on Monday at 6 p.m.

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American finished with 12 hits and responded to each of South Mountain's three-run innings with big innings of its own to stay a step ahead.

Stine's first home run, a two-run shot in the third, cut American's lead to 5-3. American came back with four runs in the bottom of the third on Trey Jessie's RBI infield single, Ahmere Ware's RBI double and Darian Hampton's two-run single.

Stine's second home run, to the same spot beyond the fence in left center, made it 9-6.

"I think he struck out either once or not at all this season," South Mountain manager Scott Hardy said. "He's a good hitter."

Again, American answered, and again Hampton had the big hit - another two-run single. Both of Hampton's hits came after Rice was intentionally walked.

"We just have a lot of heart," Wilson said. "We don't get down. A lot of kids get down after giving up a run, but we don't."

Rice and Ware pitched three innings each, combining to hold South Mountain to five hits while striking out 10.

"As long as we throw strikes, we should be all right," Wilson said.

Ware and Maust finished with three hits each - Ware hit doubles in the third and fifth innings. Rice reached base all four times up, walking in his final three at-bats.

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