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Halfway's state title hopes end in loss

July 22, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI

Halfway 10-11 All-Stars manager Mike Gooden stared out at West End Little League's field and gave a quick assessment.

"We didn't get many breaks today," he said matter-of-factly.

There weren't many bounces, either.

Delmar broke open a tightly contested game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth -- keyed by Taylor Cox's bad-hop single -- on Thursday to pull away for a 6-3 win over Halfway to win the first-ever Maryland state title in Little League's newest division.

While the hop didn't decide the game, it allowed Delmar to close out the championship in undefeated fashion.

"We'll take it," Delmar manager Dwayne Austin said of the single that opened the door. "This was a total team effort. Everyday you look in the newspaper, a new kid was getting named for stepping up. Every kid did for us here."

The final became an unlikely pitchers' duel between Delmar 11-year-old Jimmy Adkins and Halfway 10-year-old Mike McCook. Each pitched into the fifth inning before becoming pitch-count casualties.

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"I feel badly for Mikey McCook," said Gooden. "He came out and did a great job for us on short notice. He's a battler and got us into the fifth inning. Outside of a couple of bad hops, I thought we played pretty good defense. But we didn't hit the ball and didn't score runs to give him support."

Adkins' last pitch got Delmar out of trouble in the top of the fifth. It didn't go as well for McCook.

Isaac Austin opened Delmar's fifth inning with a single off the leg of Halfway third baseman Donnie Travis before Cox's grounder hit the lip of the infield grass and hopped over second baseman Blake Gooden. Isaac Austin took third and Cox advanced to second on the throw.

McCook was lifted for Coby Brady, who was greeted with Dylan Barlow's RBI single up the middle for a 4-3 lead. Barlow took second on the throw, setting up Austin Rhodes' RBI single and an error, which brought in two insurance runs.

"We had a couple of times we could have ended innings, but we couldn't do it," Mike Gooden said. "I'm proud of these guys because they were district champs and ended up second in the state, but we didn't hit the ball the way we were capable."

Hunter Frey came on to seal the win for Adkins and shut down Halfway in the sixth to lock up the title. The only setback for Delmar came with one out when left fielder Christian Littleton was forced to leave the game on a stretcher after getting hit on the head while trying to field a fly ball.

"Hunter came in and did what we asked -- throw strikes," Dwayne Austin said. "Adkins did a fantastic job for us. The only unfortunate thing is we lost a player in the sixth and he's not here for this. It's the first time in more than 20 years that Delmar has won a state title on any level. This is satisfying."

Halfway took a 1-0 lead in the first when Bryce Showe drew a two-out walk, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Harrison Barger's single.

Delmar countered with two runs in the bottom half on an RBI groundout by Isaac Austin and an RBI single by Cox.

Delmar extended the lead to 3-1 in the second on Adkin's RBI bloop double to right.

Halfway benefited from some loose defense by Delmar in the fourth to tie the game at 3. J.P. Melby brought home one run when he reached on a throwing error, and Brady stole home.

It came down to one bad hop and an offense that only produced four hits for Halfway.

"We are a fastball-hitting team and when we get behind, they break off curves on us," Mike Gooden said. "We weren't as aggressive as we needed to be on first pitches. I'm proud of my group. They'll be back."

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