WILLIAMSPORT — Just a little bit longer.
That’s exactly what Maugansville needed Friday night, sealing a 9-8 victory over Conococheague in a nine-inning game that spanned two days to force a winner-take-all final in the Maryland District 1 Junior tournament.
The outcome forces a championship final on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with the winner earning a berth in the state tournament.
“It was a crazy game last night. Conococheague got up early and they have a great team,” said Maugansville manager Phil Daniels. “Our kids have a lot of heart.”
Maugansville’s heart took over early.
Conococheague went down in order as the game resumed in the ninth inning. That allowed Maugansville to use a smart and aggressive approach to finish the rally off.
Steven Eyler reached on an infield error to lead off the inning before stealing second, but he was eliminated at third on Kenny Daniels’ grounder up the middle.
Jay Forrest reached on a fielder’s choice that forced Daniels out at second, leaving Maugansville with two outs and without a runner in scoring position.
The game seemed poised to continue.
But Forrest stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch to secure Maugansville’s victory, while dealing Conococheague its first loss of the tournament.
Maugansville is no stranger to coming back from large deficits. It overcame a 10-3 deficit on Tuesday night against Valley to pull out a 15-12 victory.
This go-round with Conococheague was Maugansville’s second meeting in less than a week. Last time up, Conococheague pitcher Austin Golden shut them down 10-0 in a five-inning no-hitter.
“I wish it was some great coaching philosophy that gets these comebacks, but the kids just don’t give up,” Daniels said.
Flashback to Thursday evening. By the sixth inning, Maugansville was down 7-1 before it sent 10 batters to the plate for a seven-run inning and a 8-7 lead. Tucker Brugh shifted things into Maugansville’s corner with a grand slam to put his team within a run before Zane Burker’s two-run single put Maugansville on top.
“It was really intense pressure. The team was really counting on me to do this,” Brugh said. “It was a nice fastball, but I was just looking to make some solid contact.”
Conococheague’s John Davies tied the game in the seventh with a solo home run as darkness fell, forcing the Friday night finish.