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PONY stars stumble, fall to Long Beach

August 13, 2008|By KEVIN JACOBSEN (Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter)

WASHINGTON, Pa. -- The potent offense the Hagerstown PONY All-Stars used in their opening game of the PONY League World Series to dispatch host Washington, Pa., disappeared against Long Beach, Calif.

After scoring 16 runs in six innings Sunday, Hagerstown mustered just three hits and one run through six innings. Instead it was Long Beach's offense that put on the show, but not without help from a shaky Hagerstown defense.

Long Beach scored five unearned runs in the fourth and fifth innings and went on to defeat Hagerstown 10-4 Tuesday at Lew Hays Pony Field.

Hagerstown plays Tamiami, Fla. in the loser's bracket today at 8 p.m. The loser will be eliminated while the winner will play Long Beach on Thursday.

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"When their backs are to the wall is when this team seems to play its best," said Hagerstown manager Steve Berger, who had his 51st birthday spoiled. "We'll see how they come back. I still think we're a quality team."

Long Beach struck early, putting runners on second and third following a leadoff single and a double in the first inning. With one out, Thomas Walker hit a groundball to third baseman Dylan Ianaro.

Ianaro thought about throwing home but changed his mind and elected to get the sure out at first. Brett Harper scored on the play, then Daniel DeWolf crossed home on a wild pitch. Harper, who had three hits -- including a hit a solo home run in the second -- and scored five times, to give Long Beach a 3-0 lead.

"Just wasn't thinking there," Berger said. "Without a doubt it was a key play."

After that, none of Long Beach's runs were earned and eight came with two outs.

"They made a lot of mistakes and we took advantage," said Long Beach manager Ken Jakemer.

Ironically, a strikeout led to Hagerstown's biggest chance to score.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Long Beach led 5-0 and Hagerstown had a runner on second base with one out. Aaron Dinterman struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but catcher Jake Hardy threw to third base to try to nail the advancing Jake Bachtell, who had doubled.

Hardy's throw was also in the dirt and Bachtell was safe. Home plate umpire John Day initially ruled Dinterman out, but after a discussion with first base umpire Tim Walter, Dinterman, who ran down the line to first base, was called safe.

Austin Yost singled to score Bachtell and a walk loaded the bases with one out, but Long Beach reliever Oliver Van Buskirk struck out Luke Toms and Brock Heiston to end the rally.

"Oliver came in and did everything we wanted," said Jakemer. "He gave us two great innings."

Long Beach countered by scoring three times in the fifth inning to extend its lead to 8-1.

"We couldn't catch fly balls, we couldn't catch groundballs," said Berger.

"It was like first-game jitters. But we didn't hit. We weren't ready to play."

Two more Long Beach runs in the seventh increased the margin to nine.

Hagerstown got help from Long Beach pitcher Cody Elder in the seventh.

Elder walked three batters and Hagerstown scored three times without a hit but could not complete the comeback.

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