SHARPSBURG — Dalton Shank provided spark with his bat and doused a rally with his glove.
The Sharpsburg Little League shortstop set the tone by leading off the game with a triple — one of 15 hits on the night for the host team — then turned a slick double play to shut down a potential uprising in the fourth inning of a 12-1 victory over American on Monday in the losers’ bracket of the Maryland District 1 9-10 Tournament.
Sharpsburg plays again tonight in another elimination game at South Mountain, which ousted defending District 1 champion Clear Spring 6-3 Monday.
Three Sharpsburg pitchers — Brandon Porter, Aaron Hartle and Ben Burgan — combined to hold American to two hits. More importantly, with games every night for as long as Sharpsburg keeps winning, Hartle and Burgan both stayed under 20 pitches, allowing them to pitch tonight if needed.
“We just play each game as it comes and don’t think too far ahead,” said Sharpsburg manager Steve Mason. “We try to keep all the kids to 50 pitches, but if someone’s on a roll you have to let him go.”
Porter threw 50 pitches, walking three and giving up just one hit — a bunt single by John Hardman to lead off the bottom of the first. Hardman came all the way around on three passed balls to score American’s only run.
But Sharpsburg never trailed, having scored two runs in the top of the first. Shank scored on a throwing error after his triple and John Grimm drove in a run with a single.
Max Crist hit a two-run inside-the-park home run to the fence in right field and Burgan added an RBI double in the second, while Shank and T.J. Kalagher stroked consecutive RBI doubles in the third as Sharpsburg took a 7-1 lead.
“We won every inning,” Mason said. “They never outscored us in an inning. You do that and you win.”
American nearly won the fourth inning. After keeping Sharpsburg off the board in the top of the inning, Jasiah Stubbs walked and Damontez Dorsey reached on an error. Naquan Chung drove a hard grounder up the middle that Shank gobbled up before stepping on second and firing to first for the double play.
Shank then snagged a hard liner by Charles Somerville to end the threat.
“He made a couple great plays. The center (of the defense) always has to be tight. Catcher, pitcher, shortstop, second ... you just have to be tight there.”
Kalagher and Crist each had three hits for Sharpsburg, while Shank, Burgan and Hartle had two each. Joose Howell had the only other hit for American.