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Conococheague comes from behind to edge Valley

June 27, 2008|By CONNER GILBERT / Staff Correspondent

CHEWSVILLE -- Leading 6-1 after three innings Thursday, it looked like the Valley All-Stars were on their way to a convincing win over Conococheague in the Maryland District 1 Junior Tournament at Jack L. Hockensmith Field.

But Conococheague mounted a comeback to win 7-6, thanks to solid relief pitching and a relentless offensive attack.

"This is great for the kids," said Conococheague manager Rick Aleshire. "It's a good morale boost for us. I'm proud of the way they kept their composure and played until the last at-bat."

Conococheague scored a run in the top of the first inning on Hunter Eyler's single to center.

But Valley answered back in the bottom half, plating two runs on RBI groundouts by Cody Betson and Anthony Dankulich to go up 2-1.

Valley increased its lead in the third when Craig Anderson hit an RBI double to center, and Betson and Jordan Morkved followed with a pair of run-scoring singles. Morkved scored on an error to put Valley up 6-1.

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"Down 6-1, we could have buried our heads," Aleshire said. "But we chipped away."

In the fourth, Conococheague scored two runs on Matt Hassler's RBI single and Brad Miller's sacrifice fly, making it 6-3.

Rickey Long's sacrifice fly in the fifth scored another run for Conococheague, and Brandon Greene's RBI single in the sixth trimmed Valley's lead to 6-5.

In the seventh, Long drew a leadoff walk. A Valley error on a grounder by Pockets Taylor put two runners in scoring position with no outs. D.J. Kinna's sacrifice fly tied the game, and a throwing error allowed Taylor to score the winning run.

Taylor's pitching had just as much to do with the Conococheague rally as his game-winning run did. He pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

"If I had to give a game ball to a player, I'd give it to Pockets," said Aleshire. "He came in and shut Valley down. He did just what we asked."

Aleshire said his team will need to be more focused next time.

"We have to make sure we don't make mental mistakes like we did in the first three innings," Aleshire said. "You go deeper into the playoffs because of less mistakes."

But he knows that this kind of emotional victory shows what his team is made of.

"The win speaks a lot to this team's chemistry," said Aleshire. "They just didn't give up. All 12 boys played a part today, and that's what it takes."

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