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Sharpsburg 11-12s force winner-take-all game for district crown

July 09, 2013|By CURT HORNBECKER | curt.hornbecker@herald-mail.com
  • Sharpsburg's Jon Grimm, top, is welcomed home by his teammates after hitting a two-run homer to give Sharpsburg a 3-2 lead in the top of the 2nd inning Tuesday night at Conococheague.
Joe Crocetta /

WILLIAMSPORT — If the Sharpsburg Little League All-Stars are looking for a nickname for Tuesday night’s starting pitcher, Ben Burgan, “Houdini” would be appropriate.

Conococheague had at least one runner on base in each inning, but Burgan — with the assistance of some sterling defensive plays — managed to minimize the damage and spark Sharpsburg to a 6-5 victory in the championship round of the Maryland District 1 11-12 Little League Baseball tournament.

The same teams face off again tonight at 6 in Sharpsburg with the winner claiming the District 1 title.

Conococheague is trying to win its fifth 11-12 district title overall and third in five years, while Sharpsburg is seeking its first.

Never was Burgan’s ability to escape trouble more evident than in the sixth inning. Trailing by two, Zack Davies opened the inning with a walk for Conococheague, and moved to second on a Travis Hebert single.

Leadoff hitter Ryan Greene laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving the runners to second and third, before a Maddux Grove ground ball to short scored Davies, and pushed Hebert to third with two outs.

Burgan then induced Ryan Sharer, who had belted a two-run homer in the first, to ground to second, preserving the win.

“(Ben) wasn’t focused on pitching sometimes and got out of rhythm,” said Sharpsburg manager Rodney Burgan. “With Ben, people expect fastball and normally he uses his fastball to set-up his curve. But tonight his curveball was his best pitch.”

Meanwhile, Conococheague pitchers Greene and Alonzo Coleman kept the Sharpsburg bats silent, except in the second, when home runs by Peyton Mason and Jon Grimm highlighted a five-run inning that included an RBI apiece from Dalton Shank and Ben Burgan and erased a 2-0 Conococheague advantage.

Ryan Nolan drove in what proved to be the winning run with a double in the fifth.

Back-to-back doubles by Justin Taylor and Trenton von Philp closed the gap for Conococheague to 5-3 in the bottom of the second, and a Jaustin Itnyre double made it 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

“These are the two best teams in the area,” said Conococheague manager Pat Taylor. “Tonight our pitchers put themselves in some holes and it’s hard to work that way, especially against a team like Sharpsburg.”

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