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11-12 tourney: Flaherty goes deep, gives win to National

July 05, 2012|By BRETT NIEVES | Staff Correspondent

HAGERSTOWN — National started off the 2012 Maryland District 1 11-12 Little League Tournament on a great note, edging in-town rival American 5-4 on Thursday night.

National’s Rian Flaherty mashed a three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to give his team the late lead.

“We got the big hit when we needed it,” National manager Ed Penn said.

American was behind National 1-0 for most of the game until the fifth inning.

Dylan Wilson reached on a single for American, Justin Balcita got on base on a National throwing error and Charlie Bell took a pitch out onto Mill Street to put American ahead 4-1.

“I kept telling (the players) to swing through the zone,” American manager Eric Stubbs said. “It took them until the fifth to do it, but the home run got it started.”

Dawson Hottinger hit a lead-off double for National in the top of the sixth and was driven in by Corban Luna’s RBI single. Brock Penn was walked to put two on before Flaherty hit the go-ahead home run.

“I knew we had at least one more at-bat (after American took the lead),” Ed Penn said. “I had total confidence in the players that they could tie or win the game.”

Prior to the lively final innings, both starting pitchers locked into a duel.

Brock Penn, National’s starter, tossed three scoreless innings before allowing a run in the fourth. He lasted 5 1/3 innings and struck out nine.

“(Brock) pitched a great game for us,” Ed Penn said. “Both pitchers pitched beautifully. Credit to American, it was a great game.”

American’s Quizee Gantt pitched an equally great game. He went five innings and finished with eight strikeouts.

“I’ve put a lot of time in to help (Gantt),” Stubbs said. “He listens well and good things happen. He’s come a long way since tee ball.”

National took the lead in the second inning on Timmy Townsend’s home run.

American tied the game at 1 in the fourth when Charles Summerville, being used as a special pinch-runner for Isaiah Kershner, scored on a fielder’s choice.

National will host Sharpsburg on Friday night at 6 p.m. in the winners’ bracket quarterfinals. American will begin losers’ bracket play Saturday afternoon at 1.

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