Conococheague parties on

July 26, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Conococheague players celebrate their come-from-behind victory over South Maryland on Tuesday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

MAUGANSVILLE — Justin Beckley really knows how to throw a party.

And it wasn’t just any party, it was a celebration. One with handshakes, hugs and tears. It was a celebration where a simple high-five wasn’t good enough.

Beckley laced a double that landed on the right-field line to score Jerry Moschel from second with the winning run on Tuesday to complete Conococheague’s five-run rally in the sixth inning for a dramatic 10-9 victory over South Maryland in the losers’ bracket semifinal of the Maryland State 11-12 Tournament at Maugansville Little League’s Jay W. Stouffer Field.

“What can you say?” Conococheague manager Pat Taylor said about the emotional display.

“Wow” comes to mind.

Conococheague was running short on pitching and looked out of sync offensively as it fell behind 9-5 after five innings. It rallied with six consecutive hitters reaching base to leave it up to Beckley, who was 0-for-2 with a walk in his first three plate appearances.

Isaac Schlotterbeck tied the game with a two-run single and Moschel pinch-ran for him. Hunter Ostrum then drew a walk to put runners on first and second for Beckley.

“Once Hunter walked, I knew I had the chance,” Beckley said. “I was hoping.”

Before Beckley got to the plate, he detoured to meet Taylor midway down the first-base line for a conference.

“Justin gets very excited and I just wanted to calm him down,” Taylor said. “I just wanted him to see a pitch he could hit.”

The conversation went a step further.

“He told me to relax and be myself,” Beckley said. “He said just pretend I was hitting against him in batting practice.”

That was a pitcher Beckley could hit. He imagined South Maryland’s Greg D’Onofrio was Taylor and placed his hit right on the line to become an instant hero and start the celebration as Conococheague advanced to Wednesday’s losers’ bracket final at 6 p.m. against Northern Calvert.

“I had just hit two fouls the at-bat before and I thought it might go foul,” Beckley said. “I started running really good and I was just really happy.”

It ended what was a struggle for Conococheague, which was all but out of it through the first five innings. It self-destructed, especially when South Maryland scored four runs in the in the third with the help of three errors to tighten the score to 5-4.

“A lot of the runs we have given up lately, we have given away with less-than-perfect defense,” Taylor said. “We played really well defensively yesterday. We got around on it late in the game.”

Conococheague jumped out to an early 5-0 lead with a single run in the first on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice grounder by Robert Carr. It added four runs in the second as Caden Keplinger and Jake Arnone drew bases-loaded walks and Gage Kyler hit a two-run single.

South Maryland seemed to take over in the middle innings as Conococheague worked on saving its pitching with multiple substitutions. It scored three in the fourth on the first of two Jake Pecilunas homers and  D’Onofrio’s two-run single.

Pecilunas hit a two-run single in the fifth to give South Maryland the 9-5 lead. South Maryland starter Lenny Lehner gutted through 3 1/3 innings to keep South Maryland ahead.

Levi Taylor started the final rally with a single and took third on Arnone’s single. Kyler drove in a run with a single and Carr — the winning pitcher in relief — added an RBI double to cut South Maryland’s lead in half. Schlotterbeck hit his two-run single and pinch-runner Moschel took second on a wild pitch, before Ostrum walked to set up the final stage for Beckley.

“We didn’t have our big inning yet,” Pat Taylor said. “Rob kept us in the game. We asked him to pitch with guts and heart and he did a terrific job. We tried to talk to the guys between innings, telling them to keep their composure while I was trying to keep mine.”

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