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National nips Sharpsburg

July 03, 2010|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Hancock. American. West End. Sharpsburg.

The National Little League 9-10 All-Stars have taken on and beaten all comers in their run to the Maryland District 1 9-10 Tournament losers' bracket final.

Sharpsburg was the latest team to be eliminated by National, which scored four runs in the second inning and two more in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead before holding on for a 6-4 victory in the losers' bracket semifinal Friday night at National.

"We got some key hits when we needed them, and like I told the kids when we lost our game, we're going to come through the losers' bracket and get back on top again," National manager Dave Hutzler said. "These kids never give up, never quit, keep their composure and I'm very proud of them."

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Next up: Valley, the team that sent National into the loser's bracket with a 14-4 victory in four innings in the winners' bracket quarterfinals. National will travel to Valley today at 3 p.m. The winner will face Clear Spring in the championship round on Monday at 6 p.m.

"We're definitely going to need to keep (Valley's) offense in check. They hit very well and field very well," Hutzler said. "They're a solid team, and we need to play our best to beat them and not make the errors we made the first time. We need to keep up with them inning by inning."

Sharpsburg took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Dalton Shank walked and, after two fielder's choice groundouts, Kelton Brown doubled off the third-base bag and Ryan Crook raced from first to come home on an outfield error.

National took control in the second. Shawn Vinson led off with a single and Rian Flaherty reached on a throwing error before Jordan Row hit a bloop RBI single. Later in the inning, Timmy Townsend hit a grounder to short and Flaherty beat the throw home for a fielder's choice RBI. Corban Luna followed with a two-run bloop single to right.

"Corban's a kid who comes through when you have to have a big hit," Hutzler said. "Good players always come through in the clutch. Whenever I ask him to do something, he comes up big."

Max Crist reached on a two-base error and scored on another error in the third to bring Sharpsburg within two runs at 4-2.

But National made it 6-2 in the fourth. Jacquan Young and Townsend had singles, Brock Penn hit an RBI double and Luna -- who reached on a fielder's choice -- scored on a throwing error.

Sharpsburg rallied in the bottom of the fourth, using Lane Gay's single and four straight walks to push across two runs and had the bases loaded with one out. National called on Hottinger in relief, and he induced two fielder's choice groundouts -- including a force out at home for the second out -- to get out of the jam.

"Dawson's a great competitor who never gives up and plays with a lot of intensity," Hutzler said. "He's a joy to coach. I've coached him since T-ball."

Sharpsburg stranded nine runners in the first five innings -- seven in the third through fifth innings.

"We've done that in our wins, we've hit the ball pretty hard. We didn't do that tonight, but I tip my hat to (National), they pitched well," Sharpsburg manager Ben Gay said.

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