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History awaits in Bristol

Conococheague back in regional after 48 years, seeking wins

Conococheague back in regional after 48 years, seeking wins

August 05, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

WILLIAMSPORT -- When Conococheague Little League's 11-12 All-Stars begin the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament on Friday, they will have an opportunity to post their first victory in the history of their league beyond the state level.

In 1961, Conococheague won the Maryland state crown and went on to lose to Virginia in a single-elimination game.

That's the regional history for Conococheague, one the current batch of youngsters plan on changing this year.

It all begins Friday morning at 11 when Conococheague faces M-O-T (Middletown-Odessa-Townsend) Little League of Delaware at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Center's Breen Field in Bristol, Conn.

It's the first of four games for Conococheague in pool play with the five other Mid-Atlantic Regional teams -- including Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. -- with the top four teams moving to the semifinals.

Conococheague manager Mike Iseminger will become a temporary father to 11 players once they begin their residence in the barracks at the Giamatti Center.

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"They all listen pretty good," said Iseminger during practice Tuesday. "I know we'll all get a lot closer to the kids. But I couldn't do all this without Dave (Scriever) and Bob (Demmitt) and their great help."

Many of the Conococheague All-Stars have been together for four years, having won the 9-10 state title in 2007.

Wyatt Scriever and Blake Harne are the "old guys" of the group, having reached the veteran age of 13.

"Since I was 8 years old I've wanted to go to the World Series," said Harne. "I'm confident in our teamwork. We all fit together. It's just so sweet to win the state and keep going on."

Scriever and Harne, along with Riley Arnone and Jordan Stonebreaker, played for Red Men during the regular season.

"Being together you get to know each other's tendencies," said Scriever, who was the winning pitcher in Conococheague's 8-1 clincher over Hughesville for the state title. "You dream about going to the World Series, but then reality sets in and you know you have to play one game at a time.

"If we play our best, like the last four innings against Hughesville, I think we have a shot at going," said Scriever, who could possibly be the first pitcher to take to the mound for Conococheague in Bristol.

Arnone, who plays right field and first base and closed out Hughesville with 1 1/3 innings of relief, wasn't too sure how much sleep he'd get Wednesday night before the team left for Bristol this morning at 6:30.

"This state tournament win is so more important than the 9-10 because you get to keep on going," said Arnone, who also contributed a home run in the championship game. "We were a little flat at the start against Hughesville but that first home run got us going."

Arnone was referencing a third-inning, two-run home run by Jordan Buchanan that gave Conococheague a 2-1 lead. It soon became 4-1 on a two-run homer by J.J. Cooper.

"If we stay up for one another and play our 'A' game, we'll do good," said Arnone.

M-O-T enters the regional with victories in the only two state tournament games it played -- 4-2 and 13-3, both over Canal. In four district games, M-O-T scored 63 runs.

"Our key is good defense and pitching," said Iseminger. "We also got some good hitting from the bottom of the order in the last couple of games at state.

"It's satisfying to see the progress of these kids from when they were 9 years old. There's not a better feeling than seeing the last out in the sixth inning and you're winning."

Notes: Conococheague's previous state championship in 1961 was a three-game sweep through the competition, culminating with a 1-0 victory over Cambridge on the strength on a first-inning home run by Gene Gross, who played left field and batted third in the order. Frank Hutzell, who later died while serving in Vietnam, pitched a one-hitter. ... With a change of scenery comes a change of uniforms as Conococheague -- like Federal last year -- will carry the Maryland banner in Bristol. The players selected red as their predominant color, with gray trousers and black trim. The uniforms were bought and provided by Harne Designer Homes. ... Friday's forecast is for mostly sunny skies with a high of 83, and more of the same on Sunday. There is a chance of rain Saturday with highs in the 70s, and again on Monday with highs in the 90s.

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