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Hagerstown hopes to ride PONY to California

July 26, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

California dreaming ...

The Hagerstown PONY 13-year-old 'A' all-star team is one step away from the World Series in Chino Hills, Calif.

The team, managed by Ed Kipe, will compete in the East Zone Tournament, starting Sunday afternoon in Davidson, N.C. The winner will earn a trip to the World Series, which begins Aug. 1.

"If we win, we'll go directly from North Carolina to California," Kipe said.

Hagerstown earned a berth to the East Zone Tournament by winning the West Region tournament last week in Boardman, Ohio.

The local squad cruised through the winners' bracket and rallied past Ingomar Black (Pa.) 5-4 to take the crown. Philip Pietro knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

"We went unbeaten in Boardman. We had good pitching and clutch hitting and that will carry you a long way," Kipe said of the region experience. "I like the makeup of this club. We have good balance, pitching depth and the guys really work well together -- that's important on a tournament team."

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Hagerstown, which defeated Canfield (Ohio), host Boardman, Washington (Pa.) and Ingomar Black en route to the championship, has never sent a team to the 13-year-old World Series -- only in its third year of existence.

"It would be a great but we'll have our work cut out for us in Davidson," Kipe said. "It's a double-elimination tournament, and we're expecting some good competition."

Hagerstown opens tournament play against the South Region champion Chesapeake Baseball Club from Virginia Beach, Va., on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Other tournament teams include North Region champion New Bedford (Mass.) and the host Davidson-Cornelius squad.

In the opener Sunday, Hagerstown will likely use ace Aaron Jones, who won two games in the regional. Brad Spickler, Logan Appel, Troy Carbaugh and Josh Grim complete a talented pitching staff.

Jason Mayles and Matt Daley share catching duties while the infield is comprised of Tyler Byers -- who collected eight hits in 14 trips to the plate during the regional -- Alex Courtney, Cole Myers, Tyler Byers, Charles Cvijanovich and Josh Grimm. Outfielders include Pietro, Dylan Appel, C.J. Owings and Brent Mentzer.

"Pietro, our leadoff hitter, has been getting on base a lot and Byers and Grimm delivered clutch hits in the regional," Kipe said. "I'd say our strength so far in tournament play has been pitching and timely hitting."

Kipe is assisted by coaches Bob Hershmen and Mark Koontz.

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