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Conococheague LL eliminated from regional tournament

August 12, 2009|By JOHNNY J. BURNHAM/Special to The Herald-Mail

o Box score

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Just six outs away from earning a berth in the Mid-Atlantic semifinals, the Conococheague Little League all-stars had their hearts broken by Josh Bogats.

Having rallied with three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 advantage, the Maryland state champions seemed destined to keep their season alive. But then, with a runner aboard in the bottom of the fifth, Bogats changed all that with one swing of the bat.

The Moon Township (Pa.) shortstop took a 1-1 pitch from Conococheague ace Jordan Stonebreaker and sent it well beyond the fence in left-center.

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Just like that, the Conococheague lead was gone.

"It's a heartbreaker, that's for sure," coach David Scriever said. "But these boys didn't quit. They fought and fought and fought the whole time we were up here."

Just a few pitches later, Marco DeBlassio made it back-to-back home runs to give Pennsylvania a two-run lead at 5-3. It proved to be the final tally as the Maryland champions failed to score in the sixth.

While Conococheague certainly hoped to pick up the win over Pennsylvania to keep its season alive, the coaching staff simply couldn't be more proud of their club. After all, Scriever added, there's no shame in making it to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament.

"To be honest, I never thought that we would get this far. We weren't sure that we would get out of districts. So, to get to Bristol was way beyond any of our expectations," the coach said. "But this is a bunch of tough, scrappy kids that just would never quit."

There was certainly no quit in them on Wednesday as they found themselves in an early hole after Moon Township struck first.

After striking out his fourth consecutive batter to begin the game, Stonebreaker allowed an infield single to Nick Rozzo. A fielder's choice for the first out was followed by a single to left from Jeff Boggs and a walk to Rocco Maue to load the bases for Troy Volek.

The Moon Township No. 9 hitter came through, slapping a single through the right side. By the time the ball made its way back into the infield, Conococheague found itself in a 2-0 hole.

A walk quickly reloaded the bases but Stonebreaker was able to regain his composure and strike out Marco DeBlassio to end the inning without further damage.

In all, Stonebreaker worked 4-plus innings, giving up five hits and five runs while walking three and striking out six.

Although the end result wasn't the one Stonebreaker was hoping for, the young pitcher left an impression on many while in Bristol.

"I'd say he's the best pitcher we've seen here," Pennsylvania coach Tim Volek said.

Conococheague tried to respond in the third, loading the bases off singles from Riley Arnone and Colby Byers and a free pass to Sinjin Shoop. But it was unable to push across a run as Pennsylvania reliever Matt Capo got out of the inning unscathed.

The boys from Williamsport didn't waste their chance an inning later, pushing across three runs.

Back-to-back doubles from Wyatt Scriever and J.J. Cooper got things started for Conococheague. In his first at-bat of the game, C.J. Henson delivered with a two-run single to right to knot the game at two.

With Henson standing just 60 feet from the plate, Blake Harne hit a ground ball to third that was fielded cleanly by DeBlassio. But his throw to try to cut down Henson was off target. Suddenly, Maryland had itself a 3-2 lead.

A crucial double play got Pennsylvania out of any further damage.

It was the last Conococheague threat of the game as Capo retired six of the final seven batters he faced to end the contest and the Maryland state champion's season.

But it was a season to remember.

"A couple of breaks, a couple of calls and we'd be in the semifinals. It just didn't work out that way," David Scriever said. "But the boys didn't quit and I'm really proud of the way the kids played. They continually showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight."

Conococheague finished the Mid-Atlantic Tournament 1-3 and went a combined 9-3 in all-star play altogether.

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