HAGERSTOWN — Garrett Embly showed the guts of a policeman and used their motto to prove it.
He came to the plate for Clear Spring in the bottom of the sixth and was determined to protect and serve.
Embly protected the plate and served an RBI double to right to bring home Chase Reed from second with the winning run on Friday for a tense 11-10 victory over National in the championship round of the Maryland District 1 11-12 tournament.
“I knew I had two strikes and needed to protect the plate,” Embly said. “He came in with a low pitch and I tried to turn on it and sent it to right.
“It all worked out good. I knew what I had to do, but so did everyone else.”
And Clear Spring will get the chance to do it again.
With the victory, Clear Spring will host National in a decisive, winner-take-all final today at 6 p.m. The winner will advance to the state tournament, which will begin July 21 in Brunswick, Md.
Ironically, it isn’t the first time that Clear Spring and National have been in this position. The two teams — virtually with the same players — met for the 9-10 district title two years ago. Clear Spring won the title and went on to win the state tournament.
On Friday, Clear Spring used three home runs — a pair of three-run shots by Josh Colliflower and A.J. Yost and a grand slam by Zack Greenlee — to do all its scoring until Embly came through with one out in the sixth for the walk-off win.
“The long balls were nice today,” said Clear Spring manager Pete Lazich. “But Garrett came through with a nice line drive in the clutch. He came through nicely. Reed also had a nice at-bat and got a double, too.”
Clear Spring needed every bit of it to offset Rian Flaherty’s three hits and five RBIs and Corban Luna’s three hits and four RBIs for National.
National erased Clear Spring’s 6-2 and 10-6 leads to force the final-inning theatrics.
Reed stroked a one-out double to left center off National reliever Cameron Dorsey that was nearly caught at the fence, just moments before Embly protected the plate and served up the victory.
It was almost melodramatic compared to the rest of the game.
“This was a great Little League game,” said National manager Ed Penn. “Our guys battled and kept coming back. We were down 6-2 and couldn’t get over the hump, but still came back. Our defense has been good, but we made a couple of errors today.”
Clear Spring took a 3-0 lead in the first as Jaret Lazich walked and Yost was hit by a pitch before Colliflower hit his three-run shot to right.
“That’s the third three-run homer Colliflower has had in the first inning of this tournament,” Pete Lazich said.
National scored a run in the second on a leadoff homer by Luna. It cut the deficit to 3-2 on Flaherty’s pop single to right field to score Brock Penn in the third.
Clear Spring regained its cushion in the fourth on Yost’s three-run blast to right-center for a 6-2 lead.
It didn’t last long as National staged its first big comeback against Clear Spring starter Tyler Hill. Dawson Hottinger reached on an error and Penn singled before Luna hit a two-run double to right.
Flaherty tied the game with a two-run homer to center to knot the game at 6-6.
Clear Spring seemingly ended the game in the fifth as Embly led off with a bunt single before Yost was hit by a pitch and Colliflower singled to left with two outs to end Luna’ night on the mound.
Dorsey came in and was greeted by Greenlee, who sent his fourth pitch over the fence in center for his grand slam and a 10-6 lead.
But National didn’t back down, tying the game in the top of the sixth on Luna’s RBI single, Flaherty’s two-run double and a game-tying grounder to short by Timmy Townsend to make Clear Spring earn the victory.
Clear Spring had 14 hits, led by Colliflower and Greenlee with three each.
Luna and Flaherty combined for six of National’s 10 hits.
“They just hit more than us,” Ed Penn said. “Someone had to lose and we ended up on the short end.”
But it set the stage for another championship game between two familiar foes.
“We were in a hole and they raised up,” Pete Lazich said. “We have to do this one more time ... and I expect a great game tomorrow.”