Easton 6 — Conococheague 5
Dylan Cassell’s power surge continued, as did the District 6 champions’ run through the elimination bracket.
The Easton 11-12 Little League Baseball All-Stars vaulted into the loss-bracket final in the state tournament, fending off District I winner Conococheague, 6-5, Thursday evening at Staley Field in Frederick.
“They’re playing solid baseball, top to bottom,” Easton manager Cory Fink said via a telephone interview Thursday night. “To go into the loss-bracket and be battling our way out of it speaks volumes of the kids, their talent, and their commitment to each other.”
Easton faces District 2 champ Frederick National, 6 p.m. tonight in the loss-bracket championship. The winner will face District 8 titlist Fruitland, 10 a.m. Saturday morning. Fruitland can clinch the state tournament with a win Saturday, but Easton or Frederick National would need two wins against Fruitland — Game 2 would be Sunday — to lock it up.
The red-hot Cassell, who homered in the last two games of the tourney coming in, went deep two more times against District I, connecting on a two-run home run in the top of the fourth and then smacking a solo round-tripper in the top of the sixth, accounting for the final difference.
Conococheague mounted a strong rally in the bottom of the sixth, its first two batters reaching on walks off reliever Cassell to begin the inning. Fink pulled Cassell and sent Michael O’Connor to the hill. O’Connor yielded an RBI single, and a passed ball left runners on first and third.
O’Connor struck out the next batter looking, but gave up a second run while trading an out on a squeeze bunt. O’Connor then popped Landen Yates to second, Cassell securing the fly for the final out.
Kayden Webb picked up the win for Easton, going five innings while allowing three runs, two earned, on three hits and three walks, striking out five on 91 pitches.
The hitting backed Webb early, Colin Mooney singling to begin the game and moving to second on Garrett Fink’s fielder’s choice. Will Sherwood’s infield single sent Mooney to third and Webb’s base hit then plated Mooney for the first score.
Cory Fink called a double-steal with runners on first and third, and Sherwood scored on the swipe to make it 2-0. Webb, who followed Sherwood on the steal, scored on Pearson Greenwood’s line-drive double to center for a 3-0 lead.
“The boys, they keep giving it their all,” Cory Fink said. “They’re playing as a team and part of the talk to them has been about rowing the boat together and picking each other up when someone makes a bad play or when someone strikes out. They’re doing that right now.”