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Gooden's walk-off blast lifts Halfway

July 11, 2011|By BRETT NIEVES | Staff Correspondent

HAGERSTOWN — Halfway finished the game exactly how it started it — with a home run.

Brandon Gooden hit a walk-off three-run homer Monday to lift Halfway over National 9-6 in a Maryland District 1 11-12 Tournament losers’ bracket game.

Harrison Barger hit his second straight lead-off home run to start the game and put Halfway ahead 1-0, before a passing storm caused a 70-minute rain delay. Barger led off the day’s previous game with a dinger, too.

National trailed Halfway 5-4 in the top of the sixth when Anthony Hodges stepped to the plate with two outs and two runners on. He hit a two-run single to give National a 6-5 lead.

Barger led off the home side of the sixth with a triple and scored on Ryan Downes’ RBI single to tie the game at 6. Bryce Ruppenthal then walked to put two runners on for Gooden.

“It was one of the best Little League games I’ve seen in a while,” Halfway manager Mike Gooden said. “Both my kids and the National kids did a tremendous job. My hat’s off to National.”

Ruppenthal was Halfway’s starting pitcher and lasted 5 1/3 innings until he reached the 85-pitch limit. He allowed three runs on five hits, struck out seven and walked just two.

Ruppenthal’s opposition, Chandler Penn, didn’t last as long in the game but was still effective on the hill. Over his 3 2/3 innings of work, he allowed just two runs on four hits, fanned seven and walked three.

The drama-filled game nearly didn’t happen. The rain delay occured in the bottom of the first with only two outs.

If the game would have been rescheduled, Halfway would have lost its 2-0 lead.

Blake Gooden scored on an error after Barger’s homer to give Halfway the two-run advantage.

National battled back in the top of the third. McCoy Dutrow picked up an RBI single to put National on the board. Mitch Wilson then singled home a run and Dutrow scored on the same play on an error to give National a 3-2 lead.

Halfway had a chance to regain the lead in the bottom of the third but couldn’t push anyone home and left the bases loaded.

Barger walked to reach base in the fourth and Ruppenthal went deep to give Halfway a 4-3 lead. Downes walked after the homer and scored later in the inning on a throwing error.

Dutrow scored on a fielder’s choice in the fifth to close the gap to 5-4. Penn was caught stealing at the plate to end the inning.

Halfway will host Valley tonight at 6 in the losers’ bracket semifinal.

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