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6th-inning HR sinks Conococheague

August 07, 2009|By PAUL ANGILLY/Special to The Herald-Mail

BRISTOL, Conn. -- After a perfect run through the Maryland District 1 and state tournaments, the Conococheague Little League 11-12 All-Stars suffered their first defeat Friday, as a pair of three-run homers propelled Delaware's M-O-T (Middletown-Odessa-Townsend) Little League to an 8-5 victory in the opening game of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Center.

Conococheague held a 4-2 lead through 4 1/2 innings before Delaware's Mitch Clemons, a substitute hitting in the No. 9 spot in the order, blasted a shot over the fence to center on an 0-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Shane Anderson, who had reached base on a fielder's choice after Sam Cochran was hit by a pitch, and Jude Kurych, who had singled, each scored on the home run.

Conococheague manager Mike Iseminger said Clemons got a "fat pitch right down the middle for him to hit," adding, "That was kind of a turning point."

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After Conococheague came back to tie the score at 5 in the top of the sixth, Delaware got a walk-off win in the bottom half. Johnny Zitofsky walked and Brennan McAllister singled before Adam Weber ended the game with a shot off the center-field scoreboard.

"We just never quit," Delaware manager Ken Anderson said. "[Clemons] had two strikes on him and gets a very clutch hit. ... I knew (Weber) was due, and I had all the confidence in the world he was going to come through."

Conococheague scored a run in five of the six innings, but was never able to bust loose for a big inning.

Pitcher Jordan Stonebreaker put Conococheague ahead in the first with a home run to left center. Delaware tied the game in the bottom of the second when Shane Anderson, Kurych and Ethan Yerger hit consecutive singles and Josh Silvestry was hit by a pitch.

Conococheague took the lead again in the third on an RBI single by Jordan Buchanan -- scoring Colby Byers -- before leaving the bases loaded. Delaware tied the score again in the bottom half on a two-out RBI single by Yerger.

"We had a lot of runners on. We couldn't get them in," Iseminger said. "We hit the ball good today."

Several hard-hit balls by Conococheague went straight to Delaware fielders.

A solo home run by Blake Harne gave Conococheague the lead again in the top of the third, before Wyatt Scriever pushed the advantage to 4-2 when he put a dent in the center-field scoreboard with two outs in the fifth.

After Delaware went ahead 5-4 in the bottom half, Sinjin Shoop started a game-tying rally for Conococheague in the sixth with a double into the right-field corner. After an intentional walk to Stonebreaker and a wild pitch that moved up both runners, Buchanan delivered an RBI single.

The bottom third of Conococheague's lineup was productive on Friday, going a combined 3-for-8 with two runs and an RBI.

"The bottom of the lineup had a heck of a day for me," Iseminger said.

Sam Cochran was the starting pitcher for Delaware, allowing eight hits and four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, with five strikeouts and no walks. McAllister pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, earning the win as he allowed three hits and one earned run while striking out one and issuing one walk.

"Sam ... just did a great job working his corners, mixing his curveballs in," Anderson said. "Sam does a good job keeping the batters off-balance."

Stonebreaker pitched five innings, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs while striking out four and walking none.

While saying that Stonebreaker struggled to keep the ball down in the strike zone, Iseminger added, "(He) pitched a great game."

Conococheague is off until Sunday, when it plays New York at 5 p.m.

"They'll rebound," Iseminger said. "I think they've already shaken the loss off, and we'll come back ready to play."

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