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Hancock 9-strong goes deep in District 9 tourney

June 2, 2014
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The theme of the Hancock 9-year-old All-Star team in the District 9 tournament has been to finish strong.

It has been that mantra that has put them on the brink of a district championship, winning three games and forcing a district powerhouse to fight for its life.

Hancock kept its run going Monday night with a 19-3 rout over Cape National in the loser's bracket finals. The win sends them to the finals against unbeaten South Fort Myers at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fleishman Park. Hancock will have to beat South twice to win the championship.

Hancock's trek began last Thursday night in the opener against Port Charlotte falling behind 2-0 and 4-2, and trailing 4-3 in the sixth before storming back for a walk-off 5-4 win.

Kenny Mercedes started with a one-out single just off the first baseman's glove. After Ryan Adams walked, Caden Oxnam singled home the tying run before Adams scored on a wild pitch for the game-winning run.

"We didn't play our best defense, but we stuck with it and came back," Hancock coach Chip Busbee said. "Jake Benbenisty came on in relief and threw strikes and we pulled it out."

The following night at South Fort Myers, Hancock trailed 9-6 in the sixth before scoring the runs to tie the game and force extra innings.

South made it 12-9 in the seventh, but Hancock made it interesting scoring a run and putting the tying run on base before a strikeout finally ended it.

Jake Mueller had two hits and Adams pitched well in relief to help Hancock get back into it.

That put Hancock 9-strong in the loser's bracket against Buckingham Saturday morning. They got a great pitching performance by Oxnam and held off Buckingham 9-5 to eliminate them.

Trailing 1-0 after two innings, Hancock scored four in the third and three more in the fourth to account for all the scoring. Mueller and Mercedes hit well and Blake Busbee executed a suicide squeeze bunt to bring in a big run.

That meant a return game against Port Charlotte and taking an 8-2 lead after three innings before a two-hour rain delay halted things.

Port Charlotte came back after the break, scoring five in the fifth to cut the lead to 8-7. Garry Kamphouse and Rontrez Johnson got big hits in the bottom of the fifth to give Hancock much needed insurance for a 10-8 win.

"We had some walks and errors that got Port Charlotte back into it, but we got refocused and held on," Busbee said.



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