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Halfway there in championship round

July 15, 2010|By DAN KAUFFMAN
  • Halfway's Zach Andrews, center, is mobbed at home plate after hitting a home run in the second inning of Wednesday's Maryland District 1 11-12 Little League Tournament game at Conococheague.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

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WILLIAMSPORT -- One team hit like a team that's played five games in the last six days. The other team hit like a team that hadn't played a game since Saturday.

Halfway hit five home runs -- four in the first two innings -- and held Conococheague to one hit in a 10-4 victory in the Maryland District 1 11-12 Tournament championship round Wednesday.

"It's the momentum coming in," said Halfway manager Les Martin. "Coming through the losers' bracket is not the same as practice. We've been facing live pitching."

Halfway will host Conococheague tonight at 6 for the championship. The winner will claim its fourth district championship -- Conococheague is the defending district and state champion.

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Matt Malphurs was the star of the game for Halfway. He homered in the first inning and again in the second, and pitched 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before reaching the 85-pitch limit.

Malphurs ended a seven-pitch at-bat with a drive well past the fence to right center for a 2-0 lead in the first. Ryan Downes launched his own two-run shot to dead center to make it 4-0.

Halfway made it 8-1 in the second. Zach Andrews led off by lining a homer just over the fence down the right-field line. Malphurs ended a nine-pitch at-bat, including three two-strike foul balls, with his second homer to right center. John Davies added a two-run single to right with two outs.

"I just wanted to put the ball in play," said Malphurs of his two home runs in two-strike counts. "I wanted to choke up, get in the back of the box and make contact. I was just trying to hit the ball hard."

Andrews led off the third with a double to right and scored on Bryce Ruppenthal's single to make it 9-1. Downes' second homer of the game, a frozen rope into the bleachers in left leading off the fourth, made it 10-2.

"Having a group of kids like this, I wouldn't want to play against them," Martin said. "Top to bottom, they just hit."

Malphurs walked five and hit a batter during his pitching stint.

"(The run support) made it a lot easier," Malphurs said. "Plus, I had my defense backing me up. I was just trying to keep the ball down and away."

"That really helps when you get a big lead, especially with the way (Malphurs) was pitching," Martin said. "He's awesome. He's had a heck of a tournament. Hitting, pitching, catching, he's doing everything and having a tournament you wouldn't believe."

Brandon Gooden and Andrews finished out the final 1 1/3 innings, and the only hit Halfway allowed was Justin Coyle's harmless infield single in the sixth. Conococheague scored its runs on eight walks, an error, two hit batters, two steals, a passed ball and a wild pitch.

Conococheague had the bases loaded in the fifth with a chance to get back in the game, but Andrews got out of the jam with a groundout to second.

"We're rusty," Conococheague manager Mick Byers said. "It's easier to hit when you're seeing live pitching every day. I'm going to bring everything I've got tomorrow."

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