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Lower Burrell rallies, but falls short in Junior Division all-star championship

| Thursday, July 23, 2009

SPRINGDALE — Lower Burrell already had staged three comebacks in Wednesday's District 26 Junior Division all-star championship game.

But the team in the 13-14-year-old division fell short of a fourth as West Point held on for a 12-11 victory at Springdale High School.

Lower Burrell had a run in and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, but a bouncer back to winning pitcher Josh Nagy ended the memorable contest.

West Point will be back in action today against Woodland Hills at Swissvale's Getz Memorial Field in a state sectional game. Lower Burrell exited the tournament.

Yesterday's game originally was scheduled for Monday at The Kiski School's John Andreani Field, but two days of rain caused two postponements before Kiski officials decided about 12:30 p.m. yesterday that the field was unplayable. Quick work by tournament coordinator Carmen Canonico secured the Springdale field for the game that experienced just a few raindrops.

If it rained last night, the contingency plan would have been to have West Point and Lower Burrell head to Swissvale for the District 26 title game early this afternoon. The winner, then, would have stayed at the complex to face District 4 champion Woodland Hills in a state sectional game.

That wasn't necessary, and the teams played an exciting, back-and-forth game in which Lower Burrell erased deficits of two, five and one.

Down 10-9 after six innings, West Point manager Scott Haines re-inserted Luke Fox into the lineup at the bottom of the order. Fox responded with a triple to lead off the seventh and scored on a groundout to tie the game at 10-10.

"Fox is a great hitter," Haines said. "I put him back in the game because he's a big-time player. He'll come in and do whatever he has to do to win the game. Matt Hogue — same thing."

A walk to Nic Haines, who reached base in all five plate appearances, preceded Hogue's long triple to right-center field to give West Point a 12-10 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, Lower Burrell's Zack Abel was hit by a pitch and, after two outs, scored on Cory Arabia's single up the middle. Derrick Beattie followed with a grounder past second base and Ben Pish drew a walk to load the bases. But Jake Prefling's bouncer was snared by Nagy, who threw on to first to seal the victory.

Lower Burrell stranded 14 baserunners.

"A couple of times, we left the bases loaded, but that's the way it goes," Lower Burrell coach Mike Pish said. "This was a great game. Hats off to West Point."

West Point scored single runs in the first two innings, but a two-run single by Cody Wolfe tied the game. The first of three RBI by Hogue led to three West Point runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

Lower Burrel sent 11 batters to the plate in a five-run fifth inning. Wolfe led off with a double, then drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning to tie the score at 8-8. Starter Marc Flickinger was pulled after four of the first five Lower Burrell batters reached base.

"Marc had used 89 of his 95 (allotted) pitches, and I hadn't pitched him in a while," Scott Haines said. "That's probably my fault for not putting him on the mound for a while. When they got on to his fastball, we put Josh in."

Hogue quickly responded in the sixth with a single, and when he scored, West Point was back in front, 9-8. Lower Burrell answered with a two-run double by Paul McCollough to take its first lead, 10-9.

"The kids were up for this game, big time," Lower Burrell coach Kevin Wolfe said. "They came prepared and worked hard all season. Sometimes, they started slow but know we can come back and bat around, and that's what we did."

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