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Hancock forces a final game for Senior title

July 06, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

WILLIAMSPORT -- Hancock Senior All-Stars coach Harry Lanehart knows to expect the unexpected when his team plays Conococheague.

"It's always a battle," Lanehart said. "It usually comes down to a wild pitch, an error or a timely hit that makes the difference."

In this case, it was one of the three times two.

Hancock's margin of victory came down to two wild pitches with the bases loaded, while Derek Younker pitched a complete game for a 3-1 win to avoid elimination and force a winner-take-all final today for the District 1 title at 1:30 p.m. at Hancock.

Hancock used patience -- and Younker's baffling curveball -- to scratch out just enough to win and force the championship game.

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"Our key is to get on base and make things happen," said Lanehart, who got his 101st win as a Little League manager. "We told them that they don't have to hit home runs. They just have to get on base."

It worked, to an extent, on Saturday as Hancock loaded the bases in the first and fifth innings. It went 0-for-5 in those situations, but got the help of two wild pitches that scored the two runs that made the difference in the game.

"We didn't get the key hits when we needed them, but the kids showed up with focus," Lanehart said.

It started with Younker, who economically pitched the complete game on 91 pitches -- no more than 16 in an inning.

"That was the key," Lanehart said. "I can't say enough about his effort. We told him we needed him to stay under control. We needed him to stay on the mound as long as he could."

His "curve first, ask questions later" approach kept Conococheague hitters off balance and reaching most of the game.

"The curve is my strongest pitch," Younker said. "Getting those two runs in the first inning was the biggest thing. Every run counted tonight. We did all the little things to come through."

Hancock jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first by getting the timing on Conococheague starter Brennen Denner's fastball. Dylan Whiteside and Logan True led off with singles and Justin Berkstresser doubled to left-center to drive in the first run.

After Lucas Trunkle drew a one-out walk to load the bases, Deener uncorked a wild pitch to Nick Lanehart to score the second run.

"Honestly, (Deener) is never at his best in the first inning," Concocheague manager Monty Jones said. "I like to use him more as a relief pitcher, but we had to plan ahead for tomorrow and now we are going to tomorrow."

Concocheague got a run back in the first as Derek Munro led off with an infield single before stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error. He scored on Deener's grounder to short to make it 2-1.

The game turned into a pitching battle the rest of the way.

Hancock got the insurance run in the fifth as Deener was lifted after allowing a one-out single to True and a walk to Berkstresser. Josh Smith came on and walked Younker before uncorking the run-scoring wild pitch.

Concocheague threatened in the seventh, getting two runners on with two outs against a tiring Younker, but he got Munro to ground to third to end the game.

Younker had 64 strikes in his 91 pitches, allowing six hits while striking out three and walking two.

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