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Power-packed triumph

Byers hits three HRs as Conococheague holds off Valley and Schwartz's four HRs

July 11, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI

WILLIAMSPORT -- The Conococheague 11-12 All-Stars showed they know the long and short of baseball on Saturday.

While most of the hits during the Maryland District 1 Little League Tournament winners' bracket final went long, Conococheague inched its was to the victory.

Conococheague clubbed five home runs, but relied on well-constructed five-run innings in the fifth and sixth innings to roll to a 20-10 victory over Valley and a long rest before it plays for the district championship.

In a game that looked like a mano-a-mano home run derby duel between Conococheague's Colby Byers and Valley's Joe Schwartz, the rest of Conococheague's team did its part to more than secure the victory.

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"We try to score runs any way we can," said Conococheague manager Mick Byers. "We were getting on base and getting the big hits and the little guys were laying down bunts."

Conococheague's aggressive style and strong pitching wore Valley down and took it out of the game.

Valley had just seven hits, including a 4-for-4 night -- all home runs -- and nine RBIs by Schwartz. He hit two-run shots in the first and sixth innings, a solo homer in the fourth and a grand slam in the second to provide the majority of Valley's offense. The only other run came on a solo shot by Owen Deffinbaugh to lead off the fourth.

"Joe ... I just can't say enough," said Valley manager Damon Huntzberry. "He is a big-time performer, but everyone has to hit. We can't be a one-man show."

Colby Byers kept pace with Schwartz, going 4 for 5 with three home runs -- solo shots to lead off the third and fourth innings and a three-run blast in the sixth -- and five RBIs.

Colby Byers got the one thing Schwartz didn't -- the win.

"He can definitely hit," said Mick Byers. "He is the heart and soul of it right now. He's competed on this level and won at this level before and knows what it feels like. He is trying to get the rest of the team there."

Colby Byers and Austin Golden combined for 11 strikeouts to shut down everyone on Valley not named Schwartz.

Conococheague played as the visiting team and took a quick 3-0 lead as Robert Carr led off with a bunt single and Colby Byers followed with an infield single against Valley starter Ramon Breland to set up a three-run home run by Golden.

Schwartz made it a 3-2 game after one with his first homer.

Justin Coyle hit a leadoff homer for Conococheague in the second before Schwartz's grand slam gave Valley a 6-4 lead after two innings.

Colby Byers keyed a five-run third with his first homer, while Conococheague went small ball with walks and grounders to set up the rest of the rally. Jake Arnone brought in two runs when he reached on an outfield error to give Conococheague a 9-6 lead and control of the game.

The roof fell in on Valley in the final two innings when it committed four of its five errors to help Conococheague to its final 10 runs.

"They played better defense than us," said Huntzberry. "I told the kids that that was a great team, so we can't be giving them five and six outs an inning."

Conococheague sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth, started by two hit batters and Bryce Byers' sacrifice bunt. Arnone, Golden and Ethan Moats each drove in runs to extend the lead to 15-8.

Conocochague capped the game with five in the sixth, keyed by Colby Byers' third homer.

"We were just trying to get outs when we could," Mick Byers said. "The defense played well. ... That's all I can ask. We got some breaks and capitalized on them. We wanted to get up on them because we were the visitors and didn't want to let them have a chance to win it in the final inning."

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