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Valley catches fire at right time

July 02, 2008|By CONNER GILBERT / Staff Correspondent

Before his team's contest with the Clear Spring All-Stars on Tuesday, Valley manager Frank Bywaters knew that something wasn't quite right about his squad.

"I sensed that they were a little lackadaisical in pregame warmups," said Bywaters. "So I had to fire them up."

Bywaters' motivation was a success, as Valley defeated Clear Spring 7-2 in the Maryland District 1 9-10 Tournament losers' bracket final at Hellane Park at West End Little League.

The game was moved from Aaron Steiner Field in Chewsville due to wet field conditions.

In the first two innings, Valley hitters struggled to solve Clear Spring starter Spencer Schultz.

"We seemed to be off balance," said Bywaters. "I was hoping that the second time through the order we could adjust to what Schultz was doing, and we did."

Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third, the Valley offense awoke. Jordan Tapley's sacrifice fly scored one run before a bases loaded walk and a hit batsman scored two more runs to give Valley a 3-2 lead.

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Valley came back for more in the fourth on a pair of two-out hits. Boo Jordan smacked a two-run single to left-center field, followed by Joey Schwartz's RBI single that put Valley ahead 6-2.

"They put the bats on the ball when we needed it," said Bywaters.

Valley took a 7-2 in the fifth when Ryan Bywaters scored on an infield error.

While Valley's offense was clicking, its pitchers put on a show of their own.

Ramon Breland, Tapley, Austin Jones and Tyler Olson combined to pitch a one-hitter with nine strikeouts.

"They all came in and threw strikes," Bywaters said. "They did the job that we asked of them."

Valley also played a smooth defensive game, committing just one error.

"I think the guys realize that, in a close game, one bad play can hurt you," said Bywaters.

Valley plays at Hancock today at 6 p.m. in the championship round and will need to win twice to win it all.

"We are very capable of winning two in a row," Bywaters said. "But we always take it one inning at a time."

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