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Conococheague LL stars rout D.C., stay alive in Mid-Atlantic Regional

August 08, 2011|By JOHNNY J. BURNHAM | The Bristol Press
  • Conococheague's Trevor Knode rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homer in the second inning Monday against Washington, D.C., in the Mid-Atlantic Region Little League Baseball Tournament. Knode finished 4-for-4 for the game with five RBIs.
By Mike Orazzi/The Bristol Press

BRISTOL, Conn. — Having dropped its first two games at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament, Conococheague Little League entered Monday’s contest with its back pressed firmly against the wall.

Simply put, it needed a win over the District of Columbia in order to keep its hope of advancing to the Little League World Series alive.

In the end, a trip to Williamsport, Pa., is still a possibility for the boys from Williamsport, Md.

The Maryland state champions used a strong offensive performance and held off a late charge by Northwest Washington Little League to pick up their first win in the Mid-Atlantic pool. Conococheague (1-2) defeated the District of Columbia champs, 17-9.

“It’s not exactly the way we drew it up, but the only thing that mattered is getting that victory,” Maryland manager Pat Taylor said. “I’m glad that we were able to get the bats going today. I think it will instill some confidence in the kids.”

In a game in which Conococheague led 16-2 after 3 1⁄2 innings and stood just three outs away from ending the contest via the 10-rule in the fourth, the District of Columbia (0-3) rallied for six runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to not only continue the contest, but put a scare into Conococheague.

But ultimately, the 14-run advantage was just too much for Northwest Washington to overcome.

“They’re a scrappy bunch that I know, by talking with them this week, loves to play the game,” Taylor said of the D.C. team. “We made some mistakes, and they took advantage of them late in the ball game.”

Taylor’s boys, however, did their damage in the early going.

Maryland came out swinging. Conococheague put the first four hitters aboard to begin the game, striking for a run on an RBI single by Gage Kyler to propel them out in front.

A fielder’s choice RBI by Isaac Schlotterbeck coupled with a D.C. blunder pushed two more runs across for before the top of the first inning came to a close.

“I think the boys were a little more relaxed coming into this game,” Taylor said. “Today was more of the offense that we’re used to seeing out of this group. It’s something that we hadn’t shown here in Bristol until today.”

Conococheague turned the game into a blowout in the second inning, as 14 batters came to the plate and nine runs scored on six hits.

The inning started with a bang as Trevor Knode provided some fireworks. After Justin Beckley reached on a leadoff walk, Knode delivered a two-run homer to center on the first pitch he saw to extend the lead to 5-0.

“I was looking for a first-pitch fastball like he was throwing to every hitter,” Knode said. “I told myself that if I got that pitch, I was going to take a swing and try and hit it hard.”

The offensive surge didn’t stop there.

Once the first out was obtained, nine batters came to the plate before the second out of the frame was in the books.

A single by Jake Arnone, the third D.C. error of the game, a single off the bat of Kyler and a two-run triple to the gap in right-center field by Caden Keplinger staked the Maryland champions to an eight-run advantage.

An infield hit by Schlotterbeck and a walk to Hunter Ostrum reloaded the bases. A walk to Beckley — his second of the frame — pushed the ninth run across.

The free pass also provided Knode with a chance to step back into the batter’s box. He came through with a run-producing base hit.

Knode had two hits and 3 RBIs in the marathon second.

“I was just trying to stay as relaxed as possible and to try to just get on base and let the top of the order drive me in,” Knode said.

From his No. 9 spot in the batting order, Knode went 4-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs.

“He’s in that 9-spot for a reason,” Taylor said. “He’s kind of like a secret weapon down there.”

In all, six Conococheague players had two or more hits on the day — Arnone, Carr, Levi Taylor, Kyler and Schlotterbeck, as well as Knode.

Maryland accumulated 18 total hits.

The work for Maryland (1-2) isn’t over yet. They’ll need a win over Pennsylvania on Tuesday to have a chance to reach Friday’s semifinals.

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