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Teetering on the brink

Conococheague in must-win situation after loss to New York

Conococheague in must-win situation after loss to New York

August 09, 2009|By PAUL ANGILLY/Special to The Herald-Mail

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Playing against what may be the toughest squad in the Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament, Williamsport's Conococheague Little League was locked in a tight pitchers' duel before a single disputed play broke the game open.

Ahead 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning, New York's South Shore National Little League of Staten Island had the bases loaded with two outs when Vincent Quinn hit a looping fly ball to right field that appeared at first to be caught by Conococheague fielder Michael Kelbaugh on a superb diving attempt, but the umpire right on top of the play saw it hit the ground first for a two-run single.

A wild relay throw to third allowed another run to score on the play and sent Quinn to third base. He scored on an RBI triple by the next batter, Nicholas Vitale, for a 6-0 New York lead.

With some urging by Conococheague manager Mike Iseminger, all six umpires on the field conferred about the play, but the original call stood.

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New York went on to post an 8-1 victory, improving to 2-0 in the Mid-Atlantic Regional and virtually assuring itself a spot in the semifinal round.

Now 0-2, Conococheague likely needs to win its next two games to remain alive in the regional. The team faces fellow 0-2 team Washington, D.C., today at 11 a.m. in a virtual must-win contest for both squads. The team faces Pennsylvania (1-1, with its victory coming against Washington) on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in its final pool play game, which will be televised live by the MSG network.

"We definitely have a shot at beating the next two teams, then we'd come back to the semifinal game and if we see New York again, maybe it'd be a different outcome," Iseminger said.

Conococheague starter Wyatt Scriever threw 84 pitches in the first three innings, just one under the limit. Riley Arnone came in to pitch the final three frames.

Scriever allowed just two hits and two earned runs, striking out five batters and walking six.

Those walks -- and some wild pitches -- gave New York its only runs in the first half of the game.

In the top of the first, Angelo Navetta got a leadoff walk, moved to second as James Morisano walked and took third as Morisano was retired on a fielder's choice. Navetta then scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the third, Anthony Scotti singled with one out and moved to second as Quinn drew his second walk of the game. Both advanced two bases, with Scotti scoring, on a pair of wild pitches.

"My hitters were disciplined, which helped, and we got a couple big hits after walks," New York manager Michael Zaccariello said.

In the fourth inning, a leadoff single by Paul Pizzo, a one-out walk to Morisano and a single from Nicholas Pucciarelli loaded the bases in advance of Quinn's game-breaking RBI single.

"We definitely felt a lot more comfortable after that point," Zaccariello said.

New York got an outstanding pitching effort from starter Quinn, who allowed just two hits -- both to Jordan Stonebreaker -- and one earned run in 5 1/3 innings, while striking out 10 batters and walking three.

"We couldn't get anything to fall in. We had a few line shots right at somebody," Iseminger said.

"The kid [Quinn] pitched a nice game," he added. "They hit the ball and we couldn't get any offense going."

After a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fifth -- highlighted by a sensational diving catch in center field by Stonebreaker -- New York added a pair of runs in the sixth inning. Morisano led off the frame with a home run, followed by a single from Pucciarelli and a two-out RBI double by Vitale.

"He did make some nice catches," Iseminger said of Stonebreaker. "He's had a good series."

Stonebreaker got a one-out infield single in the sixth inning to set up Conococheague's only run in the game. After a walk and a hit batter, Stonebreaker came home on a one-out fielder's choice play at second base.

"I think the kids got down a little bit [after the disputed fly ball], but they bounced back at the end of the game," Iseminger said.

He's hoping the teams will meet again in the semifinals.

"They're strong," Iseminger said, but "we can definitely score against them."

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