Knowing how strong South Fort Myers was in its three-team pool in the District 9 Little League 9-10 All-Star tournament, it behooved Hancock to win its first tournament game against Port Charlotte, since that would likely be enough to advance them.
Sensing the urgency, Hancock did just that last Monday with an easy win, followed by a surprising performance against South on Friday.
Their luck soon ran out, however, as South Fort Myers rallied late before Buckingham sent them crashing to reality Sunday in the semifinals.
Hancock American's Gavin Hause makes contact in an early at-bat Sunday afternoon against Buckingham in the 9-10 year-old Little League Baseball Distrcit 9 All-Star tournament semifinals. Hancock was shut out 15-0. Buckingham advanced to play South Fort Myers in the championship game Tuesday night.
Hancock started with a bang in Port Charlotte, smashing 19 hits in a 17-5 victory that ended after four innings because of the mercy rule.
Hancock scored in every inning, with three in the first and second innings before turning the game into a rout with five runs in the third and six in the fourth.
Gary Kamphouse went 4-for- 4 with four RBI and four runs scored. Ryan Hufnagel went 3-for-3 with five RBI.
Lance Gelman went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and Justin Corbitt had three hits, including a pair of doubles.
"Every once in a while those bats get going, and when that happens its contagious," Hancock coach Kevin Hause said. "We stayed in the game and stayed focused tonight.
Four nights later, Hancock played host to a South Fort Myers team that scored 17 runs in the first inning against Port Charlotte, leaving many to wonder of a repeat was in the offing at Kurt Donaldson Park.
It wasn't. It was a good game highlighted by a pitchers' duel.
Justin Corbitt threw mush at the South bats, yet kept them off balance for four great innings, getting in and out of jams and allowing a sole run in the third on a wild pitch.
Hancock tied it in the bottom of the third on Jake Benbenisty's sac-fly. It stayed tied until the fifth when Corbitt reached his pitch limit.
South woke up, scoring three in the fifth and four in the sixth to break the game open for an 8-1 win.
"We played great for four innings, but we fell apart late and they took advantage," Hause said.
Despite the loss, Hancock advanced to the district semifinals Sunday against unbeaten Buckingham at Buckingham Park, where it was handed a 15-0 mercy-rule defeat to end its season.