WILLIAMSPORT—Sometimes in baseball, it comes down to who gets to bat last.
Conococheague took it down to the wire, scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat American 12-11 in the first round of the Maryland District 1 9-10 Little League Tournament.
Conococheague struck early, scoring two in the first for a 2-0 lead. Justin Moschel walked and advanced to second on a single by Corey Walters. An infield error and a passed ball scored both. After that, American pitcher Joose Howell was nearly unhittable, striking out 10 in four-plus innings of work.
“I’m glad I had 10 strikeouts,” said Howell. “I had a goal for 10 tonight.”
A leadoff single by American’s Jolile Demer in the third gave way for Sam Hardman’s two-run shot over the left-field fence.
John Hardman made it to third after two errors and a passed ball, Jayvon Burnett reached on a fielder’s choice and both scored on Quiebren Gantt’s two-run double to left-center to give American a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Justin Moschel had an infield single, advanced to second on a strikeout and scored after two wild pitches to cut the lead to 4-3.
Sam Hardman struck again in the fourth, this time driving in Demer with a stand-up triple.
American scored six more runs in the fifth, highlighted by a three-run single by Sethan Thomas to widen the gap 11-3.
And that’s when Conococheague struck back.
Justin Taylor led off the fifth with a walk and advanced to third as Moschel reached on an error. Corey Walters then walked to load the bases, and Kyle Hott reached on a fielder’s choice as Taylor was out at the plate.
Clay Dunahugh singled to score Moschel and Walters, and Hott scored on a fielder’s choice by Trace Draper, narrowing the score to 11-6.
“11-3, six outs to go. Just don’t give up. That’s what we told the kids, just don’t give up,” said Conococheague manager Kevin Walters.
In the bottom of the sixth, Camryn Moats led off with a double and scored on Moschel’s single. Moschel scored on a fielder’s choice, Walters walked, Dunahugh reached on an error that scored Walters. After Bryce Romsburg reached on a walk, Corey Jamison cracked a two-run double to tie the game at 11-11.
With two outs, and a man on second, Trey Osborne struck the final blow with a single up the middle that scored Jamison, and Conococheague sealed their comeback with nine unanswered runs.
“If we have to give up 11 runs a game and score 15, I can live with that,” said Walters, the manager.
Conococheague will face Sharpsburg on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Williamsport. American will play at home on Monday against the West End-Halfway loser.