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West End hoping for a little magic

July 16, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

West End Little League has won 11 Maryland District 1 championships since Conococheague last won a title in 1974.

In order to make it 12 this weekend, West End might need lots of magic -- something along the lines of Penn pitching tonight and Teller going on Saturday.

"We hope the gods are with us," said West End manager Billy Nutter after a 6-2 victory over Hancock in the losers' bracket final on Thursday.

West End travels to Conococheague tonight for the championship round of the 11-12 All-Star Tournament. Game time is 6 p.m.

A victory by Conococheague -- which has not lost -- clinches the tournament title. If West End wins tonight, it would host Conococheague in the championship final Saturday at 3:30.

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The teams already have met once in the tournament. Conococheague slammed its way to a 22-2 win that put West End in the losers' bracket on Tuesday.

It was a competitive game through the second inning, tied 2-all before Conococheague busted things wide open, including a 15-run inning.

Nutter can't use ace Airin Martin, who handcuffed Hancock on Thursday, nor Cody Reeder, who threw 24 pitches in relief of Martin. That leaves Nutter with a by-committee approach.

"We'll start either (Christian) Archie or (Grimmie) Randolph," said Nutter. "We just need to get some pressure on (Conococheague) early, hit the baseball better and play better defense."

West End pitchers will have their hands full, no matter what kind of magic they're capable of.

Conococheague has outscored its three opponents 44-9 and hit 10 home runs, including nine in its last two games.

This is much the same team that won the Maryland state title as a 9-10 unit, including manager Mike Iseminger. Unlike West End, he has plenty of pitching to call upon tonight.

He could start lefty Riley Arnone, or righties Wyatt Scriever or Blake Harne, but he was undecided Thursday evening.

One thing is for sure.

"We're not coming in overconfident," said Iseminger. "This is a group of kids that has matured over the past two years. When something goes wrong for one, the others pick him up. They get along real well."

Iseminger figured West End "almost had to throw Martin" against Hancock.

"Whoever comes out against us we just want to be patient at the plate, make them throw strikes and then make them pay for it," said Iseminger.

Title hunt

After Conococheague won the District 1 title in 1974, West End came back in 1975 for the title.

Billy Nutter, along with his current coaches Jeff Jenkins and Dave Vinson, were teammates on that West End team along with Mick Billmeyer, who is the bullpen coach for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Family affair

The Nutter family also had a 34-year home run span completed. Dad Billy Nutter hit a home run against Maugansville in 1975 and his son, Brady, hit a home run in the 11-12 tournament this year against Maugansville on July 9.

West End visitor

Mick Billmeyer's father, Fred, was in attendance at the West End-Hancock game on Thursday, fresh off his return from St. Louis to see son, Mick, coaching in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

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