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Hancock wins another close one

July 13, 2007|by CONNER GILBERT/Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Forgive Hancock Little League manager Dennis Douglas if he seems a little tense these days.

His team played another close game Thursday, defeating Conococheague 9-7 in the losers' bracket semifinals of the Maryland District 1 11-12 All-Star Tournament at Ebersole Field.

"They've been doing this to me a lot," said Douglas. "We've played some tight two-run games, but we've held them off."

Conococheague loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Vinnie Foreman struck out Aaron Taylor to end the game.

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"Foreman is one of my big guys," Douglas said. "He had to take a deep breath with the bases loaded, but he got the job done."

Hancock struck first in the second when Tyler Trail walked, reached second on a wild pitch and scored on Hunter McKinley's single. McKinley scored on an error to put Hancock up 2-0.

Conococheague answered in the second. Taylor had an RBI groundout, Tyler Nally hit a run-scoring double and Brandon Toloso hit a sacrifice fly to put Conococheague up 3-2.

Hancock tied the game 3-3 in the third on Nathan Koontz's solo shot to left-center field.

Conococheague retook the lead in the same inning on Brett Vitkun's three-run homer to deep center, making it 6-3.

Koontz made it a one run game again for Hancock in the fourth, clubbing a two-run homer to center to cut Conococheague's lead to 6-5.

"Koontz's two big home runs kept us in there until we could get a rally and put them away," said Douglas.

Conococheague responded with an RBI double from Nick Williams for a 7-5 lead in the fourth.

But Conococheague's defense slipped in the fifth, committing two costly errors.

Hancock tied the game when Jordan Leach and Jordan Clingerman each scored on infield errors, then took the lead on Foreman's RBI single. Koontz scored on a wild pitch to make it 9-7.

"We had a letdown on defense," said Conococheague manager Robbie Eyler. "But Hancock is a good team."

Conococheague had a big opportunity in the sixth, but failed to capitalize with the bases loaded.

"We were waiting for the big hit," Eyler said. "We had our big sticks coming to the plate, but it just wasn't our night."

But Eyler knows that his team did not lose for lack of effort.

"They have battled hard game after game, so I'm proud of what they did," Eyler said. "We tried to come back, but it just didn't happen tonight."

For Hancock, the big hits came at the right times. But Douglas knows that they also squandered some key chances.

"We responded well with the bats," Douglas said. "But I'd like to see every bat respond like they can and see what we can do."

Hancock will play at Maugansville today at 6 p.m. in the losers' bracket final. Federal awaits the winner.

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