The Conococheague Little League All-Stars saw their postseason run come to an end Thursday morning as Pennsylvania scored six unearned runs in the fifth inning on the way to a 10-3 victory over the Maryland state champs at the Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament in Bristol, Conn.
Conococheague finished 1-3 in pool play, tied with New York for fourth place in the six-team pool. However, New York claimed the fourth and final spot in today’s semifinal round by virtue of its head-to-head victory over Conococheague last Friday.
“We had a tremendous two months together,” said Conococheague manager Pat Taylor. “I’m very proud of the group of boys we had. It just seemed like it wasnt in the cards for us in Bristol.”
Play picked up Thursday in the top of the third inning after the game was suspended by rain Tuesday with two scoreless innings in the book.
After both teams were retired in order in the third, Pennsylvania got on the board in the top of the fourth on a leadoff home run by Talon Falls.
Conococheague answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Caden Keplinger and Isaac Schlotterbeck started with back-to-back singles. Justin Beckley entered to run for Schlotterbeck, and he and Keplinger both moved up one base on a passed ball.
After a pair of strikeouts, Trevor Knode reached on an error that plated Keplinger to tie the score. Jake Arnone followed with a triple to right field that scored Beckley and Knode to give Conococheague a 3-1 advantage.
“It felt like we were getting the momentum we needed,” Taylor said. “It seemed like we were swinging the bat well, it just didn’t work out.”
Pennsylvania got those runs back and more in the fifth. Mike Keibler got a one-out single against Conococheague starter Levi Taylor, who then gave way to Schlotterbeck on the mound.
Schlotterbeck got Tyler McClosky on a popup to short for the second out. Brandon Miller singled to right, and he and Kiebler both moved up on an error. Alex Garbrick tied the score at 3 with a two-run single to center field.
Falls and Landon Breon followed with consecutive base hits, with Breon’s scoring Garbrick with the go-ahead run. Falls then scored on a wild pitch and Breon scored on Cole Reeder’s double. Reeder eventually scored on a passed ball to give Pennsylvania a 7-3 lead.
Levi Taylor led off the Conococheague fifth with a double and moved to third when Gage Kyler reached on an error. But the potential rally was quickly erased when Keplinger lined out to short and Schlotterbeck grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
“That was kind of the story of our regional,” Pat Taylor said. “We had opportunities, but we couldn’t put everything together the way we needed to.”
Pennsylvania added three more runs in the top of the sixth and reliever Eathan Watkins retired Conococheague in order in the bottom of the inning to end the game.
Levi Taylor allowed two runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings and struck out five.
“We had a great experience through the district, states and the region. I don’t think they’ll ever forget it,” Pat Taylor said. “They made some fans in Bristol. There were a lot of people that took to them and that meant a lot to us.
“We had 50 to 75 people at each game for us, people that made the trip back and forth, a few that didn’t have kids on the team. There were some who drove overnight last night just to be there for the kids this morning. That meant a lot, too.”
No. 2 seed Delaware (4-0) faces third-seeded New Jersey (2-2) in today’s first semifinal at 11 a.m., followed by top-seeded Pennsylvania (4-0) against No. 4 seed New York (1-3) at 3 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPN.
The Mid-Atlantic final will be played Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
Six-run fifth helps Pennsylvania end Maryland champs' season
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