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Next stop -Williamsport - Federal flexes its muscles to get to Series

August 12, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

BRISTOL, Conn. - Going, going, gone!

See you later!

Wave it bye-bye!

You can put it on the board, yes!

The Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars had all the superlatives as they continued their power show in the Mid-Atlantic Regional final Monday night, allowing them to take their act to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

Zane Schreiber hit two home runs - including a grand slam - and Andrew Yacyk and Dalton Jobe added solo shots as the Maryland state champions defeated Pennsylvania champion Devon Strafford Little League 8-3 at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center.

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"It sure takes a lot of pressure off the pitching staff when they know, when we get up, we can put runs on the board," Federal manager Bill Abeles said.

It didn't take long for Federal (14-0, 6-0 in regional play) to draw oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Yacyk - an intimidating figure at 5-foot-11 and with a powerful swing - hit the second pitch he saw from Pennsylvania pitcher Kyle Stefanic for a towering home run to right center for a 1-0 lead with one out in the first inning It was Yacyk's sixth home run in regional play and ninth overall.

"I was just trying to make contact," Yacyk said. "I hit it and it went out."

With one mighty swing from Schreiber, Federal put some distance between itself and Pennsylvania.

Ryan Knitter led off with a bad-hop single that bounced over shortstop Thomas Richter. Josh Barron and Nick Karlen both walked to load the bases before Ryan Byard hit a fielder's choice grounder to second. Karlen was retired on a force play at second as Kinter scored to make it 2-0.

Stefanic fell behind Yacyk 3-0 before Pennsylvania manager Glen MacGibbon elected to walk Yacyk on intentionally, setting the stage for Schreiber - who homered in the regional semifinals against New Jersey champion Bordentown.

On a 2-1 pitch, Schreiber unloaded on a fastball for a no-doubt home run to center, nearly hitting the scoreboard as the fans erupted.

"It felt really good because it gave Andrew a lot of insurance runs so he could feel good," Schreiber said.

With two outs in the fourth inning, Schreiber went deep again, this time off reliever Andrew Born on a 1-0 pitch, hitting it well past the fence to left center to make the score 7-1. It was Schreiber's fifth home run at regionals and tied Yacyk for the overall team lead with nine.

Jobe followed that up by ripping into an 0-1 fastball for a no-doubt blast to nearly the same spot to make it 8-1. It was Jobe's fourth home run in regional play and his eighth overall.

Yacyk was superb on the mound early, striking out five of the first eight batters he faced and no-hitting Pennsylvania for the first 3 2/3 innings - running his streak of hitless innings in the regional to 11.

But Pennsylvania was in the regional final for a reason - because it could hit. It entered the final with a .350 team batting average.

Consecutive hits by Stephen Born, Christopher MacGibbon and Max Dolente got Pennsylvania on the board in the fourth, and after Pennsylvania cut the lead to 8-2 with the help of a Federal error in the fifth, MacGibbon's home run leading off the sixth made it 8-3 and ended Yacyk's stint on the mound after 86 pitches.

"We started getting the ball up and they hit the ball hard," Abeles said. "We played some defense and held on."

Josh Barron came on in relief and walked Dolente before striking out Riley Pritchett for the first out. Colin Murphy followed with a popup in foul ground near the backstop that catcher Jobe made a sensational play on for the second out. Barron got John Miller to line out to Schreiber at third to end the game.

As the players celebrated in the infield, Abeles, the rest of the coaching staff and the parents could finally take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.

"I was starting to feel the stress as the week went on," Abeles said. "I could feel the pressure mounting with every victory. The relief is superb."

Federal scored 56 runs in six regional games - outscoring its opponents 56-18 - and hit 21 homers. Since All-Star play began with the Maryland District 1 Tournament, Federal has outscored its opponents 157-35 and hit 45 home runs.

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