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Conococheague wins state title

July 29, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Conococheague's Levi Taylor (29) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning Friday night.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

MAUGANSVILLE — When it all was over, Levi Taylor circled the Jay W. Stouffer Field while carrying the Maryland State flag.

It was almost fitting. Taylor was Conococheague's flag-bearer on Friday.

Taylor hit two home runs and drove in seven runs in the his final two at-bats to lift Conococheague to another dramatic victory, this time a 14-10 heart-pounder over Elkton to win the Maryland State 11-12 Tournament championship at Maugansville Little League.

Conococheague scored 12 of its 14 run via homers, including a grand slam by Robert Carr in the third inning that allowed it to win its second state title in three years. Conococheague's core group won the 9-10 state title in 2009.

“This feels great,” said Taylor, wearing and carrying a bottle of sparkling cider that was used in a champagne-style celebration. “Now we won a game that allows us to go somewhere. When we won the 9-10 title, that was it. Now we get to go to Bristol (Conn.).”

With the win, Conococheague will represent Maryland in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, starting Aug. 5 in Bristol, Conn. The party started as Elkton's Chase Wunder hit a pop fly to Carr - the other big hero - to end the game. Gloves and hats went flying as Conococheague converged around second base to celebrate a title but coming through the losers' bracket after losing its first game.

“This is unbelieveable,” said Conococheague manager Pat Taylor. “There is nothing I can say. These kids are amazing. The kids on Elkton are amazing, too. There was so much heart on this field tonight.”

Elkton got off the mat to tie the score at 10-10 on three-run home run by Nick Gregson in the top of the fifth inning. With the game tied, Conococheague fell into the new patience mode that it adopted.

Isaac Schlotterbeck, Justin Beckley and Caden Keplinger all drew walks to bring Levi Taylor to the plate, looking to be the hero. He connected on Austin Ross' pitch and launched over the fence in center field to clear the bases, break the tie and ultimately break Elkton's back.

“Yeah, I was looking to do that,” Levi Taylor said. “As soon as I saw the first pitch, I knew I was hitting it. It was a fastball and it was right down the middle.”

Getting to that moment wasn't easy, though, for Conococheague.

The teams went through six lead changes, wrapped around a 1-hour, 38-minute rain delay, to get to the final showdown.

Conococheague took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by winning pitcher Jake Arnone.

But Elkton came back to take a 5-1 lead as a heavy storm interrupted its five-run rally in the third. Jack Stewart hit an RBI double before Will Lorman's sacrifice fly and Ross' three-run homer.

After the delay, Conococheague was down but not out.

The District 1 champs countered with five runs of their own in the bottom of the third, powered by Carr's blast to retake a 6-5 lead. Carr's swing was the match that lit the fuse for the victory.

“I was just focused just to get a nice hit,” Carr said. “The pitch came in and I just followed through it. This is a dream come true. I wanted to help us go as far as we can.”

The two teams traded home runs the rest of the way.

Stewart hit a solo shot in the fourth in Elkton's two-run fourth to jump back to a 7-6 lead.

Conococheague looked like it was getting clear of Elkton as Levi Taylor hit his three-run shot, followed by a solo shot by Arnone to take back a 10-7 lead to set up Ross' three-run shot and Levi Taylor's game-winner.

Arnone, who had two hits, pitched the final five innings in relief of starter Gage Kyler to get the win.

“Robert Carr had a tremendous tournament,” Pat Taylor said. “The whole team did. I couldn't be more prouder of them. It's been an amazing week. I just can't believe how it all unfolded.”

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