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by Frank Tate
(July 9) The Harrison County Nationals 13-year-old All-Star team pounded out 16 hits en route to a 16-5 win over the Harrison County Americans in a five-inning contest shortened because of the 10-run rule.
With the win, the Nationals take a 1-0 advantage in a best-of-three series with the winner advancing to the state tournament in Elkins.
"We hit the ball extremely well tonight," Nationals head coach Butch Sutton said.
"The balls found the gaps and scored runs early, which was key," Sutton said.
The Nationals indeed scored early and often, putting across 10 runs in the first with 14 batters going to the plate.
Brian Kemmerer had a single and double in the inning to drive in three runs.
Chris Lake also had an RBI double while Bobby Oliverio, Danny Sowers, Frankie Sutton, John Cole and Brandon Brumage all had RBI singles, with Oliverio's base hit driving in two runs.
"For the first time out in all-star play, I thought we hit the ball pretty well," Sutton said.
The barrage made Nationals starter Brumage's night a much easier one.
"It's pretty easy to step on the mound and pitch when your team scores runs for you," Brumage said.
"I didn't have to worry about making a bad pitch when you have the runs to work with," Brumage said.
Brumage worked two innings, giving up one hit and striking out four.
The Nationals extended their lead to 12-0 in the second when John Cole singled in a run and Oliverio's bases-loaded walk added the other.
Despite being down 12-0, the Americans didn't fade into the night as they batted around in the third to score four runs.
Wes Osbourn delivered the big hit in the inning with a two-run single to right while the other two runs scored on an error.
"I was proud of the way the kids fought back," Americans coach Jeff Ritter said.
"A lot of kids would have given up, but they hung in there against a real strong team.
"So we are going to try and come back tomorrow and not be intimidated by them, and try to have a better first inning and see if we can beat them."
That will be a daunting task for the Americans if the Nationals keep up this offensive fire power.
Every starter on the Nationals had at least one hit, while seven batters had two hits or more in the outburst.
Sowers led at the plate with a 3-for-3 day while Lake went 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Oliverio went 2-for-2 with four RBIs while Kemmerer drove in three runs on two hits.
Brummage, Sutton and Cole each had two safties with Cole driving in two runs.