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by Mike Nutter
(July 21) Unlike its previous games in the 12-year old Little League tournament, the big innings and the timely hits weren't there for manager Frank DeMarco and his Shinnston team.
Monday night, they weren't needed as pitchers Adam Southern and David Wray combined to no-hit the Upshur County All-Stars as Shinnston won 2-1 at Clarksburg City Park.
In the evening's first game, Salem used a 13-hit attack to beat Lewis County 12-5.
"I can't say enough about the job Adam and David did for us tonight," said DeMarco. "Adam did a fantastic job, and then David really came in and picked us up.
"Tonight, our bats weren't there and the two of them came through for us in a big way."
Perhaps most impressive, Wray had been on vacation and hadn't picked up a baseball in more than a week.
The layoff never seemed to bother the lanky righthander. He struck out four and twice retired the side.
"Our bats just didn't show up tonight," Upshur County manager Mike Allman said. "I have to give credit to those two kids from Shinnston, though. They did a good job out there. It was just one of those nights for us where we couldn't get anything to fall."
Shinnston went up 2-0 in the top of the fifth as Chris Hurst lined a triple down the first base line with one out. He scored one out later on a passed ball.
Upshur County mounted its only real threat in the fifth when Jeffery Wayts reached on an error to lead off the inning.
He moved to second on a groundout and eventually came home when an errant throw to third landed in the outfield, making it 2-1.
However, Wray ended the threat by fanning the next batter.
In the second game, Salem used a seven-run second to move into tonight's semifinal with Upshur.
Leading 1-0, Salem loaded the bases and got a single from Chris Lowther and a double from Matt Taylor to ignite the inning.
One out later, Eric Golden and Josh Nutt contributed back-to-back doubles to give Salem a 4-0 cushion. Salem would add three more runs before the rally ended.
Lewis County crept back into the game at 8-5 in the top of the fifth, but Salem responded with four runs on three hits.
"We hit the ball well tonight, but I still don't think we hit to our capability," said Salem manager Junior Pigg. "Tonight, we had a little pitching problem, but we were trying to rest some kids, and we've got enough pitchers to do that.
"(Tonight), we're going to need to hit the ball a little better, and Eric (Golden) and Josh (Nutt) are going to have to be on."
Tonight's game is scheduled to begin at 6:30.
by Mike Nutter
(July 21) The Harrison County Nationals' 15-year-old All-Star team is in a familiar position: The Nationals seek their third consecutive state title as the 15-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament opens today at Frank Loria Memorial Field.
The Nationals' first obstacle is also a familiar one -- the Harrison County Americans will be their first opponent.
Last year, the Americans beat the Nationals for the right to represent Harrison County as the host team. Also, the two already have met once this year, with the Nationals winning 11-0.
However, Nationals coach Joe Romano believes that has no effect on tonight's contest (7 p.m. start, admission $3 adults, $2 students).
"That was then," said Romano. "We're going after them like we would any other game.
"These kids are really ready to go out and play. We have to be prepared for this game and not think about what we did two weeks ago."
Romano has a solid lineup, with all nine batters capable of providing more than enough offense.
The key, he said, will be his pitching staff. Romano was still uncertain who he would start on the mound today, with Paul Graeber, Joe Moore, Keith Small and Chad Southern all candidates.
Americans coach Guss Kelley was most concerned with his players' mindset.
"We have to play with a lot more emotion than what we did when we played the Nationals the last time," Kelley said. "I think that carried over to the defense where we made some mistakes that really hurt us.
"(The Nationals) aren't just another all-star team. This is a group that has won the Ohio Valley Regional twice. But if we come out focused and ready to play, I think we can play a lot better than we did against them the first time."
The Americans also have a potent lineup.
"Our hitting really came around," Kelley said, referring to his team's two wins over Wes-Mon in the district qualifier. "Hopefully we can continue to hit the ball like that in the tournament.
"For us to be successful, though, our pitching has to come through. We're not real deep, and two of our top three pitchers are 14."
Kelley will probably throw T.B. Bailey in the first game.
For the Nationals and Romano, a third trip to the regional would be a great way to cap off a three-year run.
But "right now, our main focus is Tuesday's game," Romano said. "This team beat us last year, so you know they're capable of doing it again.
"If we come out mentally ready, hustle and don't make a lot of dumb mistakes, we'll be all right."
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