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National erupts for 22 runs to stay alive

July 10, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

The National Little League All-Stars were stunned by their 7-5 loss to Sharpsburg on Thursday in their Maryland District 1 11-12 tournament opener. They were not about to make an early exit Friday.

National banged out 19 hits, including three home runs, on the way to a 22-4 mercy-rule victory over American, earning a date tonight at Clear Spring.

"It was a tough loss (to Sharpsburg) and we were outplayed," said manager Randy Rachor. "We know we have a strong team with experience back from last year. This was a good win. It was building momentum."

Jeff Bennett led off the game with a home run on the fourth pitch he saw and that was the beginning of the end.

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National sent 13 batters to the plate and hit American with nine runs, getting a two-run single by Landon Buzzerd, a run-scoring double by Dalton Hottinger and an RBI triple by Nick McCoy.

It didn't help that American's defense, behind pitcher Jacob Wise, was a little suspect, failing to flag down some catchable hits.

"The very things we talked about in practice," said American manager Twan Gantt. "If we were going to get beat, it would be on defense. There was no movement to get a ball. We were hesitant on fly balls and grounders."

National didn't let up, scoring five more in the second inning, highlighted by McCoy's three-run home run.

In the third, Jake Boutieller greeted relief pitcher Elijah Stubbs with a homer and National went on to add five more runs, including a two-run double by Austin Socks.

American scored in the second on a two-base error and two wild pitches and then added two runs in the third and one in the fourth on an RBI single by Malik Adams.

Bennett, McCoy and Buzzerd had three hits each for National. Bennett and Buzzerd each scored four times and McCoy had four RBIs.

"We're pleased with tonight," said Rachor. "The bats weren't as strong (Thursday). We've got some heavy hitters. I don't think we'll be easy to knock off out of the losers' bracket."

Josh Walther went all four innings for National, allowing three hits, walking only two and striking out three.

"Josh threw strikes and was aggressive," said Rachor.

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