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Conococheague rallies for 11-12 winners' bracket title

July 05, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG — Hello, Hancock. The Conococheague 11-12 All-Stars are giving you a shoutout this morning.

That’s because they realize they may not be where they are at if it weren’t for the time they spent playing up on the Pennsylvania border.

Alonzo Coleman hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning on Friday to start a three-run rally that helped Conococheague come from behind for an 8-6 victory over Sharpsburg in the Maryland District 1 winners’ bracket final.

Conococheague blew a 5-0 lead and fell behind 6-5 in the top of the fifth. But, in a sense, it figured it had Sharpsburg right where it wanted.

“We have a lot of depth on our team from 1 to 13,” said Conococheague manager Pat Taylor. “An important point for us came during our first game at Hancock. We were down the entire game and came back with two runs in the final inning to win. It was a good lesson for them to learn and it helped them tonight.”

Conococheague will host the district championship round opener on Tuesday at 6 p.m. It will play the winner of Monday’s losers’ bracket final at Sharpsburg — which will face the winner of Saturday night’s Valley-Federal game.

Conococheague jumped out early against an offensive-minded Sharpsburg team, as Ryan Sharer hit a three-run home run in the first and Alex Avey hit a two-run shot in the second off starter Peyton Mason for the early 5-0 lead.

But Sharpsburg found itself exactly where it wanted to be.

“It didn’t scare us ... it motivated us,” said Sharpsburg manager Rodney Burgan. “I wish we didn’t have to get down to get motivated like that. It’s just a matter of timely hitting.”

Sharpsburg chipped away using T.J. Kalagher’s three-run home run off Conococheague starter Maddux Grove to cut the deficit to 5-3.

Sharpsburg took the lead in the top of the fifth. Dalton Shank led off with a homer to center. Jaustin Itnyre relieved Grove and allowed a single to Reeder and a double to Ben Burgan. Ryan Nolan put Sharpsburg ahead 6-5 with a two-run single to right center.

“I trust these guys,” Rodney Burgan said. “They have been playing together since they were 8. They put a couple of runs on the board and then they got the lead. But when you go up, you got to hold it.”

Itnyre started the winning rally by drawing a walk off Shank, who came on in relief for Sharpsburg in the fifth. With one out, Coleman hit his two-run drive to center to put Conococheague up 7-6.

“Alex squares up the ball every time,” Taylor said. “If it isn’t a home run, he’s driving it through the infield. He hits the ball hard and makes the other team make plays.”

Trenton von Philp followed with a sinking two-out liner to center that Max Crist made a diving attempt to catch, but the ball scooted past him for a triple. A wild pitch allowed von Philp to score, providing an important two-run lead.

“It was a big insurance run,” Taylor said. “We try not to live and die by the long ball. You have to take advantage of mistakes.”

Itnyre set Sharpsburg down in the sixth after allowing a pair of singles to earn the victory.

Sharpsburg collected 12 hits, led by Shank and Kalagher with three each, while Ben Burgan and Nolan had two apiece.

Coleman had three hits and von Philp added two of Conococheague’s nine hits.

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