Mixed results for Hagerstown

PONY team goes 1-1 in first day of East Zone tourney

PONY team goes 1-1 in first day of East Zone tourney

August 01, 2009|By JAY N. MILLER/Special to The Herald-Mail

BROCKTON, Mass. -- The Hagerstown PONY League All-Star team's Saturday action in the East Zone Tournament at Walker's Playground turned out to be a doubleheader against a pair of Massachusetts teams.

Hagerstown utilized its big bats and a superb long-relief job by Brad Spickler to trample host Brockton 14-6 in the morning game. But Hagerstown couldn't find any effective pitching in its nightcap against New Bedford, falling 14-4 in five innings.

When the four-team, double-elimination tourney continues today, Hagerstown will meet Chesterfield (Va.) at 9 a.m., with the loser eliminated and the winner advancing to meet New Bedford (2-0) at 11:30 a.m.  New Bedford is now in the driver's seat, as whichever team meets them today will need to beat them twice to take the East Zone championship and earn a slot in the PONY League World Series.  

In the opening game, Brockton battled almost evenly with the Hagerstown squad through the first three innings, trailing just 6-5. But once Spickler came on in relief of starter Tyler Byers, with two outs in the third, Brockton's bats were stifled. Spickler turned in three solid innings, allowing just one run on four hits.


Hagerstown had taken a 6-1 lead in the top of the third, with a two-run homer to left-center by first baseman Andrew Yacyk being the big blow. But Brockton battled back in the bottom of the inning, with two walks and then a towering three-run homer down the left-field line by Corey Medeiros. Brockton then managed four straight singles off Byers, before Stickler came on to preserve the lead.

Hagerstown padded its lead with four runs in the fourth, with a two-run single by shortstop Charles Cvijanovich the key hit. Yacyk led off the sixth stanza with a double to right, and scored moments later on a Phil Pietro single, pushing the margin to 11-5. Three consecutive walks gave Hagerstown another run before Brockton ended the rally. Hagerstown added two more runs in the top of the seventh, without benefit of a hit, thanks to Brockton  miscues.

Hagerstown's offense was formidable to say the least in the first game, with eight different players notching RBIs, led by Yacyk with three and Cvijanovich with two. After Spickler's long relief stint, Jordan Dickens came on to close it out with a scoreless 1 1/3 innings.

"This team has been hitting well since we started playing," said Hagerstown manager Steve Berger. "And we hit from top to bottom in this lineup. Even our 8 and 9 hitters are used to batting third and fourth on their own teams, so we've got plenty of balance."

"Brad Spickler coming in and shutting them down likie he did today was a tremendous job," added Berger. "And then Jordan finished it off nicely." 

Hagerstown's bats were kept under wraps for all but one inning of the nightcap. New Bedford starter Harley Breakall fanned five of the first eight batters he faced. But after a one-out walk in the third frame, Hagerstown chased Breakall with four straight hits. A Cvijanovich double to left was good for a run, and then a two-run single by Pietro ended Breakall's day on the mound. But the bad news for Hagerstown was that New Bedford's reliever, Javier Lozada, proved to be virtually untouchable, holding them to one hit over the final 2 2/3 innings.

On the other side of the equation, nothing Hagerstown could do seemed to slow down the speedy and opportunistic New Bedford offense. New Bedford rallied from that 4-2 deficit in the bottom of the third with six runs on just two hits, with three walks and an error adding to the chaos. Hagerstown never recovered.

Four different Hagerstown pitchers struggled to find the range against New Bedford, which scored its 14 runs on just five hits, eight walks, three hit batsmen (New Bedford's Matt Farnsworth managed to get plunked all three times), three errors, six wild pitches and a passed ball. 

Hagerstown couldn't even get lucky, as center fielder Logan Appel threw out a runner at the plate for the final out of the fifth inning, but the crucial 14th run had crossed the plate seconds before, invoking the 10-run rule.

"I've never seen so many weak balls hit that we couldn't make plays on," said an exasperated Berger. "Give credit to New Bedford; they put the pressure on us and we folded. But I've seen this team do this before, look awful against Bucks County, and then come out the next day and be completely focused. The good thing about using all those pitchers is that everyone is still available Sunday, and Spickler is the only one who can't pitch. We'll turn it around tomorrow morning -- we'll have to -- and we'd love another shot at New Bedford. But Virginia will be primed for us."

In Saturday's opening game, New Bedford downed Chesterfield 8-3 behind Matt McCann's complete game. Chesterfield eliminated Brockton 17-7 in the losers' bracket game.

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