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Conococheague rallies for 9-10 championship

July 09, 2007|By TRAVIS KING / Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Seeing a seven-run deficit on the scoreboard in the third inning and a flat team in his dugout, Conococheague Little League manager Mike Iseminger made every attempt to rally his team and get back in the game.

His team answered the call by scoring nine unanswered runs, and on J.J. Cooper's RBI single in the fifth inning they pulled ahead to defeat Valley Little League 10-9 in the championship game of the Maryland District 1 9-10 All-Star Tournament.

"They went out in the third (down 8-1) and were pretty flat, so I had to jump on them a little," said Iseminger. "I got them fired up as the game went on and they responded."

Valley built its first lead of the game by sending 11 hitters to the plate in the top of the second. Hunter Martin was hit by a pitch with one out, Tyler Bywaters drew a walk and Holden Hershey singled to drive in Martin with the game's first run. The lead grew to 7-0 after two errors, Nik Steiner's RBI fielder's choice, Josh Mades' RBI double and Martin's two-run double.

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Conococheague managed its first run in the bottom half on an RBI fielder's choice by Colby Byers.

A Timmy Hartsock fielder's choice in the third, and a wild pitch that scored Steiner in the fourth, extended Valley's lead to 9-1.

Even with his team up big, the fear of a Conococheague comeback was in Valley manager Tim Hartsock's mind.

"I knew they had it in them to come back on us. They are too good of a team to go down like that," said Hartsock.

Conococheague began its comeback in the fourth. Two walks pushed Valley starter Josh Miller's pitch count over 75, forcing him out of the game with one out. RBI singles by Sinjin Shoop and Riley Arnone made it 9-3 before reliever Timmy Hartsock caught a Wyatt Scriever popup and stepped on first to double up Arnone.

Valley was hurt by the baserunning that won it games previously in the tournament. On Sunday, Valley runners were caught stealing three times, and another runner was tagged out at home trying to score on a double.

"We want to double our score when we have the other team on the ropes," said Hartsock. "I think with the big-game emotions, our decision-making was a little skewed."

Conococheague completed its comeback in the fifth with seven runs. Five walks and Blake Harne's RBI double cut Valley's lead to 9-6 and brought Wyatt Scriever to the plate. Scriever, who had struck out twice in addition to his popup, erased his bad luck with a two-out, two-run double to make the score 9-8. A wild pitch scored Arnone to tie the game, and Cooper's bloop infield single just over the glove of Austin Jones gave Conococheague the lead for good.

"I thought he caught the ball at first," said Cooper. "When I saw it drop, I felt relieved. Once we got a couple runs in the fifth, that's when I thought we could win it."

Scriever, Conococheague's third pitcher of the game, took the mound in the third and provided the stability his team needed. He gave up no hits in 4 1/3 innings, allowed one run, walked four and struck out two.

But his big hit was the first thing on his mind.

"My favorite part was hitting the double, since it got everyone started," said Scriever. "We just kept on trying to get a rally going when we were down. We're trying to make contact, get a hit, and hope it goes pretty far."

Hershey had two of Valley's five hits in the game, while Miller gave up three hits, walked five and struck out four in his 3 1/3 innings of work.

Arnone went 3-for-3 with a walk and Jordan Stonebreaker added two hits for Conococheague.

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