HAGERSTOWN — Forget that Valley lost to Federal on Sunday. Forget that Valley had to endure the suspension of manager Mike Mathias following Tuesday’s win over Halfway.
On Wednesday, it was a focused Valley team that turned the tables on Federal, 9-3, in the losers’ bracket final to reach the championship round of the Maryland District 1 11-12 Little League Tournament.
Today, Valley will travel to play Conococheague at 6 p.m., still without Mathias, but with a new outlook.
“We dedicated the game to (Coach Mathias). It was just one of those deals that happened,” said acting manager Frank Bywaters.
Mathias was handed a two-game suspension after reserve Will Merritt failed to bat in Tuesday’s game.
“We sensed we were a little flat on Sunday, put the events behind us and came out focused tonight,” said Bywaters. “Tonight we came out and answered the bell.”
Valley’s home run bell rang out three times, the biggest off the bat of Clayton Chirdon, who drilled a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning for a 5-3 lead.
“I knew it was gone off the bat, think it was a fastball,” said Chirdon of his first postseason home run. “It felt great. We knew we had to win tonight.”
The home run capped a comeback after Federal had taken a 3-2 led in the top of the third, using its only two hits of the game off Valley’s Bryce Scharenbroch.
After Myles Nicholson walked, Jayvien Sandridge homered. On the next pitch, Brady Munson went deep for the 3-2 lead.
But Scharenbroch didn’t waver, despite starting the game with an upset stomach.
He went five full innings with 85 pitches, walked three and struck out six. During warmups to start the fifth, Scharenbroch appeared that he might not be able to continue as he clutched his stomach, but he persevered and went on to pitch a scoreless inning.
“That boy battled and gave us a solid 85 pitches,” said Bywaters.
Federal manager Charlie Wood was equally impressed.
“That was a crafty performance,” Wood said of Scharenbroch. “We’re a fastball hitting team and he really mixed it up. We got the 3-2 lead and it didn’t faze him.”
Valley came right back in the bottom of the fourth and widened the margin to 9-3 thanks to the long ball.
Scharenbroch singled and Ryan Kolich smashed a homer. Ryan Bywaters singled and scored when little Duke Zimmerman went big with a two-run roundtripper.
“I give (Valley) credit,” said Wood. “They made the plays. I think we may have been a little flat tonight.”