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Offensive punch makes Federal's case

August 08, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

BRISTOL, Conn. - Sometimes, numbers don't tell the story.

Then, there's the Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars and their overwhelming offense.

In Federal's case, numbers tell the story better than words.

The Maryland state champions have scored 139 runs in 12 games, with the help of 36 home runs. No wonder Federal is 12-0 and the No. 1 seed entering today's semifinals at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament. Federal will face New Jersey champion Bordentown at 3 p.m. at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center.

"You don't know who's going to be the hitter in any game," Federal manager Bill Abeles Jr. said Thursday. "This is one of those extraordinary years we have some depth with 12-year-olds."

What Abeles didn't say: Sometimes, they're all hitters in the same game.

In a 30-0 drubbing of South Maryland to open the state tournament, five Federal players combined for seven home runs, with Zane Schreiber hitting three. Federal has two games with five homers, two with four and two more with three.

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Andrew Yacyk hit three home runs against Delaware champion Middletown in the opening game of the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Crosse Barvinchack hit two in the Maryland state final against Easton. Dalton Jobe had a two-homer game in district play.

"We went through the tail end of districts and states, and it's always been the top five or six kids," Abeles said. "They feed off each other and play off each other. If Andrew gets plunked, he'll take his base knowing Zane or Dalton or Crosse is going to drive him in."

Federal's hitting has stayed red hot even as the competition level has increased with each step along the journey. Federal hit 13 homers in District 1 play, 11 at the state tournament and have 12 so far in the regional tournament. Federal has scored at least seven runs in each regional game.

"We still pinch ourselves a little bit," Abeles said of himself and his coaching staff. "We knew we had talent, but we weren't sure what we were walking into. At every level, there's a little devil on my shoulder that tells me, 'Some team's going to clean your clock.' But they keep performing."

No team has tested Federal like Bordentown just did. In Federal's final pool play game Wednesday, Bordentown jumped out to a 6-0 lead after three innings. Federal needed to score four runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to pull out an 8-7 victory.

"We knew it was going to be a battle yesterday because we were trying to preserve our pitching staff," said Abeles, who threw six different players. "I was hoping for a little better start, but I kept saying to the guys, 'Take it one at-bat at a time and put some pressure on them.'

"New Jersey wants us bad. They're a scrappy little team, and it's one loss and you're out of the tournament. We're not taking anyone for granted in a single-elimination tournament."

Abeles said he will send Schreiber to the mound this afternoon. Schreiber started and won the Maryland state final.

"He's one of our top pitchers. He'll start and we'll take it from there," Abeles said. "He's a gamer and he's pitched in big games."

Federal needs two wins - the Mid-Atlantic Regional final will be played Monday at 8 p.m., and televised by ESPN2 - to reach the Little League World Series, which begins next Friday in Williamsport, Pa.

"We're trying to keep them grounded," Abeles said. "You don't fool with the baseball gods. A lot of good teams have come here, earned the No. 1 seed, lost to the No. 4 seed and been done. I'll remind them to keep focused, keep their mouths shut and remember why they're here."

The numbers tell the story

A look back at Federal Little League's run to the Mid-Atlantic Regional semifinals. Federal, the Maryland champions, will play New Jersey state champion Bordentown today at 3 p.m.

Maryland District 1 Tournament

Federal 11, Valley 2

Federal 11, Maugansville 1

Federal 16, Conococheague 5

Federal 13, Conococheague 0

OVERALL SCORE: 51-8

FEDERAL HOME RUNS: 13

Maryland State Tournament

Federal 30, South Maryland 0

Federal 5, Frederick National 4

Federal 6, Easton 4

Federal 9, Easton 1

OVERALL SCORE: 50-9

OVERALL HOME RUNS: 11

Mid-Atlantic Regional

Pool Play

Federal 12, Delaware 0

Federal 11, Washington, D.C. 4

Federal 7, Pennsylvania 4

Federal 8, New Jersey 7

OVERALL SCORE: 38-15

OVERALL HOME RUNS: 12

Federal home run leaders: Andrew Yacyk 8; Zane Schreiber 6; Dalton Jobe 6; Josh Moats 4; Ryan Byard 4; Crosse Barvinchack 3; Josh Barron 2; Adam Blenckstone 2; Nick Karlen 1.

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