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Hancock's heart breaks Conococheague's

June 28, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

WILLIAMSPORT - The fat lady kept trying to sing to put an end to Friday's Maryland District 1 9-10 All-Stars Tournament game between Hancock and host Conococheague.

Neither team would let her - and it made for a thrilling contest.

Hancock took an 8-0 lead with an eight-run third inning - capped by Jesse Wolford's grand slam - only to watch Conococheague score the game's next nine runs, including five in the sixth - capped by Ethan Moats' grand slam - for a 9-8 lead.

But down to its last out, Hancock kept battling. Tyler Clingerman's two-run bloop single in the bottom of the sixth gave Hancock a 10-9 victory and a home date against Valley in today's winners' bracket final at 11 a.m.

"It was exciting," Hancock manager David Faith said. "It started out slow, but at the end, you couldn't ask for a better game."

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"That was just all heart," Conococheague manager Pat Taylor said of his team's valiant comeback bid. "Hat's off to (Hancock). They battled, too."

Hancock appeared to have the game well in hand after its eight-run uprising, aided by three walks, a hit batter and an error. Wolford singled to start the inning, then capped it with a blast to center 20 feet past the fence. Darren Lashley added an RBI double to left off the top of the fence.

But Conococheague kept chipping away at the deficit. Three Hancock errors led to two runs in the fourth, and in the fifth, three walks led to Austin Golden's two-run single to center to cut the lead to 8-4.

Then in the sixth, a Hancock error and three walks led to a run to cut the score to 8-5, before Moats hit a fly to center that cleared the fence by inches for a stunning 9-8 lead.

"Ethan Moats, absolutely clutch," Taylor said. "Grand slam, that's unbelievable."

Colby Byers came on in relief for Conococheague and gave up Wolford's grand slam, but gave Conococheague a chance to come back by retiring nine of the next 12 batters he faced and keeping Hancock off the scoreboard until two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

"Byers was unbelievable on the mound," Taylor said. "He left his guts out there."

But two errors and a walk - on a borderline 3-2 pitch ruled just high - loaded the bases and led to Clingerman's bloop to shallow right-center field. Three Conococheague defenders ran after it, but it dropped as Brad Younker scored from third and Trent Rider raced around from second to slide home with the winning run, just beating the throw.

"I saw three kids coming at it and was hoping it would drop between them, and it did," Faith said. "I was hoping (Rider) could get home in time."

Conococheague will host South Mountain today at 11 a.m. in a losers' bracket game.

"We just told them the scoreboard's off, the game is over. Just forget about it. There's more baseball to play tomorrow," Taylor said.

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