The Hughesville 14-and-under all-stars looked pretty sharp before Thursday's District 7 Little League playoffs, executing a razzle-dazzle warm-up in which the players converge on second base before running to their respective positions, creating a fanning effect.
They looked pretty sharp during the game, as well, limiting the Waldorf Nationals to three hits while collecting eight of their own in a 10-0 win that improved their record to 35-4.
Hughesville played the winner of Friday's semifinal in yesterday's title game. (Results were unavailable at press time.) The District 7 champion will advance to the state tournament, which begins this week and includes all eight of the state's district winners.
On Thursday, Hughesville pinch-hitter Mike Garrett sealed Waldorf's fate with an RBI bunt in the bottom of the sixth that invoked the 10-run rule and prevented the Nationals from getting another inning at the plate.
Daryl Thompson pitched all six innings for the victors, allowing three hits and a walk before the game was stopped. Thompson struck out six, and got stellar defense from left fielder Shawn McCloskey, right fielder Micky Ely and second baseman Jonathan Kruckow.
He faced the minimum 12 batters through the fourth inning. In the first, he allowed a one-out single up the middle to Tommy Hanburg -- who was caught stealing by catcher Clint Jenkins. Thompson retired the next 10 in a row.
Hughesville's near-flawless play is sure to intimidate opponents, but it might all start with the unique pregame ritual, which also involves constant motion as the ball is thrown around the infield several times as a coach hits grounders.
"I've never seen a team in Maryland do it," said Coach Tim Farrell, who picked it up from a team in New York during a tournament last year. "No one does. The kids love it. . . . It's just something for the kids to get going. It really makes them feel good. And it's a lot of throwing -- it takes a good nine minutes, nonstop, to do it. It gets them really loose."
Pitcher Matt McFaden said younger teams want to incorporate the warm-up into their routines.
"All the little kids want to do it," McFaden said. "It's fun. It gives us a little sweat going before the game. It's better than just hitting, `Get one, get two.' It gets us going. Before we start, we're already up on [their opponents]. It shows them what we can do."
Notes: Jenkins went 3 for 4 and drove in five runs Thursday. . . . McFaden and Mike Bridgette also earned pitching victories for Hughesville, which has a terrific staff that includes Jed Vess, T.C. Renner and Dustin Malvaso.
Waldorf 000 000 -- 0 3 4
Hughesville (35-4) 202 501 -- 10 8 0
Hanburg and Koennel; Thompson and Jenkins.