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Everything is within grasp of Hancock Juniors

July 19, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

Dennis Douglas is in high demand right now.

But that's all right. So is his Hancock Junior League All-Star team.

Douglas is in Little League baseball's version of a tug-of-war. He is managing Hancock's 11-12 and Junior All-Star teams this summer.

"There's not much time for rest," Douglas said.

That might make Douglas an adrenaline junkie.

This week alone he will be guiding the 11-12 team at National's Thomas Evans Memorial.

It is a warm-up to the weekend when he adds duties of managing the Juniors in the Maryland State Tournament, which will be played at the Valley Little League complex. Hancock has a first-round bye in the double-elimination tournament and will begin play Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Now, that's a rush.

"This is a big deal," Douglas said. "We played pretty well in the districts. We handled it all well. We are just hoping we will be able to handle as well here with our pitching. Our goal was to win the district. It would have been a disappointment if we didn't. We felt like we had it in our grasp. "

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When it comes to pitching, Hancock has many arms in the wagon, but it gets pulled by two horses -- Tyler Trail and Nathan Koontz.

"They are the leaders," Douglas said. "We just have to play defense behind them to help keep their pitch count down. They are both smart. They know where they are in the order and who the hitters are. They will allow the hitters to put the ball in play and let the defense do what it has to behind them."

Trail pitched Hancock to victory in the district championship game on July 12 by going 6 2/3 innings in a 6-1 win over Conococheague. Koontz controlled Maugansville in the tournament opener in a 19-8 victory.

"We have three or four other pitchers, but (Trail and Koontz) are our main two," Douglas said. "We use the others and try to get short innings out of them, but they all work. We have the type of pitchers who throw as hard at the end of games as they do in the beginning.

"Good pitching wins games and we'll have it here, too. If you are playing three games and your best pitcher's throwing two of them, you have to feel pretty good."

If the pitching is working, the offense doesn't have to work as hard. Still, Douglas is confident with his collection of hitters to get the job done.

"We hit the ball well in the district tournament," Douglas said "We will be playing against a new group of players we have never seen before, but we are still hitting against 13- and 14-year-olds."

The offense starts with Levi Mellott, who has been Hancock's leadoff hitter and has shown the ability to steal bases. That helps set the table for Brayden Litton, Tanner Manning and Koontz to drive in runs and keep rallies going.

The formula allowed Hancock to go 3-1 in the district tournament -- beating Conococheague two of three times -- and score 43 runs (a 10.75 average per game).

Hancock will have an added perk of playing the state tournament in its home district with the rest of the field traveling to play in Washington County.

"It has to be some advantage that we will be able to sleep in our own beds and that we have played on that field before," Douglas said.

Hancock also has some past history and a blueprint to follow to make a serious run at the state title.

"Two years ago, the Conococheague 9-10 team won the state and found out we had as much competition here as we had in the state," Douglas said. "So, we'll find out. Our goal is not to worry about anyone else. We want to play our game and make adjustments early. This is in our grasp, too."

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