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Conococheague one win away from state title

July 28, 2009

WALDORF, Md. -- Conococheague had a few anxious moments Tuesday, but reached the championship game of the Maryland State 11-12 Little League Tournament with a 6-5 victory over Hughesville in the winners' bracket final.

Brunswick and South Maryland played in the late game Tuesday in the losers' bracket and that winner will face Hughesville tonight, with that survivor advancing to face Conococheague on Thursday at 6 p.m.

As the visiting team, Hughesville opened with a three-run first inning against Jordan Stonebreaker. But Conococheague answered immediately with five runs in the bottom half.

"That was the key, that we came right back," said manager Mike Iseminger. "We haven't been behind. It was only the first inning and we came out hitting."

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Riley Arnone reached on an error, Stonebreaker was hit by a pitch and Jordan Buchanan laced a three-run homer for a 3-3 tie.

Wyatt Scriever followed with a double and scored on J.J. Cooper's single. Cooper eventually scored to make it 5-3 when Blake Harne reached on an error.

Conococheague took a 6-3 lead in the second on a double by Sinjin Shoop and a triple by Stonebreaker.

Hughesville scored single runs in the third and fifth innings to close the gap to 6-5. Stonebreaker reached his pitch-count limit after serving up a home run to Simeon Spruil in the top of the fifth with none out.

Harne came in for two innings of relief in his first postseason appearance on the mound.

"It was the first opportunity in either of the tournaments we've had to use (Harne), and he was ready," said Iseminger. "We thought about starting him tonight. It was either him or Stonebreaker."

Harne allowed one hit, one walk and struck out a pair in picking up the save.

"A close game, and in the end, a one-run game. That keeps you focused during the game," said Iseminger.

Conococheague, which entered the tournament with a .439 team batting average, managed only seven hits.

Stonebreaker struck out nine in his four-plus innings and allowed five hits. He was also the only Conococheague player with two hits, adding a single along with his triple.

Conococheague will have the opportunity to close in on its first Maryland state title since 1961. A deciding game would only be played on Friday if the losers' bracket survivor beats Conococheague on Thursday.

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