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Federal on verge of celebration

Monday's regional final against Pennsylvania will be shown live on ESPN2

Monday's regional final against Pennsylvania will be shown live on ESPN2

August 09, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

BRISTOL, Conn. -- There was only one thing the Hagerstown Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars didn't do Friday afternoon -- celebrate.

That can wait for Monday.

Federal was all business in its Mid-Atlantic Regional semifinal against New Jersey champion Bordentown, and it took care of business in typical fashion -- with five home runs -- for a 10-0 victory in 3 1/2 innings.

"We did what we set as a goal today," Federal manager Bill Abeles Jr. said. "We got good offense and good defense, and we're hard to beat when we do that. We got some good pitching, too."

Federal will face Pennsylvania champion Devon Strafford -- a 13-11 winner over New York champion Haverstraw -- on Monday at 8 p.m. for the regional title and a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., beginning Aug. 15. The region final will be shown live on ESPN2.

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Federal defeated Devon Strafford 7-4 in pool play on Monday.

Bordentown gave Federal (13-0 overall, 5-0 in regional play) its biggest scare in pool play, taking a 6-0 lead through three innings Wednesday before Federal rallied to win, 8-7.

There was no such scare Friday.

Zane Schreiber started for Federal and retired the first two hitters on groundouts in the top of the first before Tommy Walters singled and Zack Gakeler walked. Schreiber struck out Ryan Shinn on a high curve to end the frame.

Bordentown starter Austin Goeke walked Ryan Byard and Andrew Yacyk to lead off the bottom of the first. On a full count, Schreiber connected on a fastball for a three-run shot past the fence in right-center.

"I knew it was gone," Schreiber said.

"We play one inning at a time. We got good defense in the top of the first, and we wanted to get some runners on and get some early runs," Abeles said. "They continue to execute and make the coaching staff look good."

Dalton Jobe followed with a single, and after two strikeouts, Josh Barron lined a 2-2 pitch just over the fence in left-center for a 5-0 lead.

"I thought it was going to be too low and hit the fence," Barron said. "I never thought I could hit a home run in regionals."

Federal continued to display its power in the second inning. Byard led off by hammering a slow curve to left, and two outs later, Jobe hit a first-pitch fastball out to center.

"(Coach Abeles) told me his curve would look like a change or a lob ball, and to just stay back and hit it," Byard said.

"It was a fastball down the middle," said Jobe of the pitch he launched. "He made the mistake of pitching that to me, and I hit it over the fence."

Byard applied the finishing touch in the third. Josh Moats singled and Barron walked to start the frame, and with two outs, Bordentown manager Pat Welsh relieved Goeke with Austin Papp after Goeke threw 77 pitches.

Byard worked Papp into a full count, then pulled a fastball well past the fence near the foul pole in left, a no-doubt shot that gave him two homers on the day, gave Federal a 10-0 cushion and put Federal three outs from Monday's final.

"I was thinking homer, because I've never had a multi-homer game in my life," Byard said.

"I told Ryan to stay patient, that all he had to do was get on base and Andrew (Yacyk) or Zane could drive him in," Abeles said. "But I also told him that if he sees one he likes, jack it, and he did."

Schreiber retired Bordentown in order in the fourth inning to seal the deal. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out three, and the offense made it a low-stress outing.

"It feels real good," Schreiber said. "You have a lot of backup behind you, so you just go out and have fun. You know they're going to score runs behind you."

Federal has 41 home runs in 13 games -- including 17 in five regional games. Federal is averaging 9.6 runs per game in regionals.

If Federal keeps that kind of offensive attack going, its next stop on this summer's remarkable journey will be in Williamsport, Pa.

"We're all having fun, because we know we're so close, and if we keep working hard, we know we can get there," Byard said.

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