HALFWAY — Halfway’s 11-12 All-Stars made the first game of their district title defense count Wednesday, defeating Sharpsburg 5-1 in a first-round game in the Maryland District 1 Tournament at Marty Snook Park.
Halfway only had seven hits, but found ways to manufacture runs on the basepaths while pitching effectively.
Starter Ryan Downes wasn’t overpowering, but he didn’t need to be, allowing only two hits in 3 1/3 innings. His only blemish was a home run to Sharpsburg’s Matt Harsh.
“I thought our pitchers pitched very well,” said Halfway manager Mike Gooden. Downes really got us started, and (Harrison) Barger and (Bryce) Ruppenthal picked him up in the later innings.”
Barger pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before giving way to fireballer Ruppenthal, who closed out the sixth.
Halfway drew first blood in the second inning. Donnie Travis doubled and Blake Gooden — who pinch ran for Travis — advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mike McCook, later scoring on the throw to third. Ruppenthal scored Halfway’s second run in the third, walking and advancing to second on an error. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored on another. He scored a second run in the fifth by stealing home on a double steal.
“We ran the bases aggressively,” said Mike Gooden. “We played small ball and made things happen out there when we needed to.”
A home run by Travis and an RBI single by Ruppenthal in the sixth inning rounded out Halfway’s scoring.
“These guys are all champs. They’re all resilient,” said Gooden. “We made a bad hitting night into a positive.”
Harsh started for Sharpsburg and took the tough-luck loss, pitching 4 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and four walks.
“The kids played hard. They had a couple errors that hurt, but all in all they played good ball against the defending District 1 champs,” said Sharpsburg manager Joe Harsh. “Hopefully we can come through the losers’ bracket like our 9-10 team did.”
“Hats off to Matt Harsh, he has no reason to hang his head,” said Gooden. “He pitched one heck of a ballgame against our batters.”
Halfway plays Federal at home today and Sharpsburg hosts the National-Maugansville loser Friday.