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Halfway goes whole way

July 15, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI
  • A ball hit by Halfway's Matt Malphurs hits the outfield fence railing, out of the reach of Conococheague's Jake Arnone, in the second inning Thursday. Arnone caught the ball on the rebound, and the play was ruled a ground-rule double.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

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HALFWAY -- Zach Andrews showed the way.

Tanner Canfield led the way.

And Billy Miller pushed Conococheague out of the way.

That was the way it went Thursday for the Halfway 11-12 All-Stars as they used an eight-run first inning and shut down the defending state champions 15-3 in 3 1/2 innings to win their fourth Maryland District 1 championship, the first since 1999.

"I'm old school," said Halfway manager Les Martin. "They came out here as a team and they did it. We hit the ball and got good pitching. They came out every game after our loss and scored in the teens. The momentum kicked in and it didn't stop."

Halfway advances to the Maryland State Tournament, which begins July 24 in West Salisbury, Md. It will play the District 4 (Baltimore) representative in a 12:30 p.m. opener.

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Canfield, Andrews and Miller did all they could to make sure the momentum didn't have any chance of stopping. Canfield pitched a complete-game victory, Andrews started the huge first inning with a leadoff home run and Miller capped the early rally with a grand slam.

Canfield set the tone by shutting out Conococheague in the top of the first inning. Conococheague had used the visitor's role to take early leads, but only managed a one-out single by Colby Byers. Canfield retired Conococheague on nine pitches, all strikes.

"I went out there with the eye of the tiger," Canfield said. "I threw them a lot of curves. I actually threw faster today and my teammates helped me defensively, but especially with their bats."

Andrews took the baton from Canfield and ignited Halfway. He led off the bottom of the first by working Byers to a 2-2 count before ripping an opposite-field home run over the fence in left field to give Halfway a quick-strike, 1-0 lead.

"Honestly, it was a high pitch," Andrews said. "I probably did that once all season, but I saw a chance and I took it."

"I think that was a big spark for the eight-run inning," Andrews said. "After I hit it, I went back to the dugout and told guys to hit it hard. It didn't matter if you hit it 270 feet or not, just hit it hard."

Halfway continued to apply the pressure, loading the bases and scoring on a pair of wild pitches and Canfield's bloop single in front of the plate that went off the glove of a diving Byers.

With the bases reloaded, Miller, the No. 9 hitter, delivered four runs in grand style with a shot to center field for the 8-0 lead.

"I just wanted to put the ball in play," Miller said. "I hit it but I didn't think it had enough air under it. I was just trying to get it back to the top of the order to let those guys keep it going."

Instead, he put Conococheague in a position it didn't experience much while taking the winners' bracket title. Halfway handed it a 10-4 loss on Wednesday to force a final game.

"We congratulate Halfway," said Conococheague manager Mick Byers. "They are a good team and we wish them well (in the state tournament)."

Conococheague countered with two runs in the top of the second with the help of four Halfway errors. Ethan Moats led off with a homer, but the errors extended the inning for Canfield, causing Martin to make a visit to the mound.

"Tanner didn't feel like he contributed last night," Martin said. "He said he wanted to pitch tonight. When I went out there to talk to him, he just looked at me and said that he wanted to win."

Canfield gave Halfway a 10-2 lead with a clutch two-out, two-run single in the second.

Jake Arnone moved Conococheague within 10-3 in the third with an RBI double.

Halfway started closing out the game with a five-run third as Ryan Downes hit a two-run single and Brandon Gooden hit a three-run homer.

Canfield allowed a walk in the fourth but was never threatened as Halfway claimed the title, which brought back the district banner for the traditional lap around Nicholas James Adenhart Memorial Field.

"They showed how tough they are," Martin said. "I didn't expect them to do this after we lost (to Valley on July 9). They bounced back and, once they bounced back, the heat was on."

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