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Halfway handles stress to walk past Northern Calvert, advance to finals

July 22, 2010|By WILL ROBINSON/Staff Correspondent
  • Halfway's Blake Gooden dances out of the way of Northern Calvert's Justin Hitt to avoid being tagged out at second base during the first inning of the Maryland 10-11 State Tournament at West End. Halfway pulled out a 9-8 victory to advance to the championship round.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" would be the perfect theme song for the Halfway 10-11 Little League All-Stars.

J.P. Melby dealt with the stress while in the batter's box with a a 3-2 count and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning of Halfway's 9-8 victory over Northern Calvert in the losers' bracket final of the Maryland State Tournament.

Fear crept into his mind.

"I was scared I was going to strike out," said Melby. "I knew the pressure was on."

With the score tied 8-8, Donnie Travis and Bryce Showe each singled and Coby Brady drew an intentional walk to load the bases. Melby showed patience with a 3-1 count, but watched the second strike.

His reward was a final pitch in the dirt for a bases-loaded walk to bring in the winning run in walk-off fashion, giving Halfway another come-from-behind victory.

"I'm calling them the Cardiac Kids," said manager Mike Gooden. "They're just finding ways to pull it out."

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The victory puts Halfway into the tournament's championship round, starting tonight at 6 p.m. against Delmar at West End.

Northern Calvert led 6-3 until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Halfway rallied for five runs off of reliever Cody Fowler. Showe, Mike McCool and Shawn Loar each drove in runs in the rally.

Justin Hitt touched Melby for a one-out single in the sixth to bring up Dillon Waters, who had hit a three-run homer in the second inning.

"I told my pitchers that when we get these big guys up to the plate, that they just need to keep the ball down," said Gooden.

Waters, however, got a hold of one that looked like it was gone as well, but Brady pulled it in in center field. The out turned the game Halfway's way.

"That play right there is what we call a momentum changer," said Gooden. "Someone is always stepping up for us."

The change was delayed, though, as Kyle Kingsbury launched a 3-2 fastball over the fence in left field for a two-run homer to tie the game.

Despite Northern Calvert's heroics, Halfway's train kept a-rolling right into the championship round.

"We're going to roll the dice and see what we can do," said Gooden. "I've told them that they're at least state runners-up, but let's go for the state title. We're going to hit them with everything, even the kitchen sink."

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