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And hit they did. District 6 champ Easton rapped out 10 hits, putting up three-spots in the first, se­cond, and fourth, to win go­ing away, 9-3. District 7 champ Hugh­esville, now in the elim­i­na­tion bracket, plays to stay alive to­day at 1:30 p.m. against Elk­ton.

Not know­ing what District 7 champ Hugh­esville had, Fitzhugh added, was a bit of trou­ble, but he had scouted them as best he could.

“We knew they had won the state [ti­tle] last year, and we knew what we saw in videos on the in­ter­net,” Fitzhugh said. “So we knew we were go­ing to have to throw our two No. 1 pitch­ers, and it would de­pend on how things went to see if we could use them a lit­tle, or if we had to use one for a long time.”

In Lit­tle League, with pitch counts and days-ofrest rules strictly lim­it­ing pitch­ing, es­pe­cially at ages 12 and un­der, shep­herd­ing one’s arms is an in­te­gral part of play.

So when Hugh­esville got on the board early, tak­ing a 2-0 lead with two outs in the top of the first, Fitzhugh was hop­ing to get out of the jam with start­ing pitcher Chris Bay­nard.

And Easton caught a break, when Bay­nard struck out Bran­don Paschal look­ing for the third out of the in­ning — on his 24th pitch.

Un­der the “plateau rule,” if a pitcher be­gins a plate ap­pear­ance against a bat­ter while just be­low a cer­tain pitch count, and faces no bat­ters be­yond that one, the to­tal pitch count re­verts to the max­i­mum un­der the plateau.

One such plateau is 20 pitches; a pitcher who throws that many or less in a sin­gle day needs no calendar days of rest be­fore pitch­ing again. Throw­ing 21-35 re­quires one calendar day off, while 36-50 re­quires two.

Since Bay­nard took on Paschal with 19 pitches thrown, and Fitzhugh pulled him be­fore he threw a pitch in the se­cond in­ning, Bay­nard’s of­fi­cial pitch count was only 20, mak­ing him avail­able to pitch in to­day’s 4 p.m. win-bracket semi­fi­nal against District 2 champ Thur­mont.

Easton re­sponded to Hugh­esville’s open­ing with a stronger one of their own.

Lead­off man Cal Roser (three runs) walked to start the home half of the first; he stole se­cond and, one out later, Bobby Fitzhugh walked. Bay­nard came up next and one-hopped a pitch by Hugh­esville starter Quade over the out­field fence; the ground-rule dou­ble plated Roser and put Bobby Fitzhugh at third base.

Jog­ger Shockley came up next and laid down a squeeze bunt; Bobby Fitzhugh scored on the suc­cess­ful sac­ri­fice, and Bay­nard, mo­tor­ing around as well, scored all the way from se­cond, while Shockley made se­cond amidst all the con­fu­sion at the plate. But he was gunned down while try­ing for third, for the se­cond out.

The next bat­ter struck out, end­ing the in­ning, but not be­fore Easton had scored three times to take a lead the team would not re­lin­quish.

Bobby Fitzhugh got the ball to start the top of the se­cond, and quickly re­tired the side, all on strikes. He would fin­ish with seven in four in­nings of re­lief work, throw­ing 50 pitches and fin­ish­ing at the two-day rest plateau, another break for the District 6 champs. If Easton wins to­day, the team’s next game would be the win-bracket cham­pi­onship on Tues­day night.

“That’s a big dif­fer­ence for us,” Steve Fitzhugh said. “Now, with him able to come back for that game, we’ll def­i­nitely have one of our cou­ple of top pitch­ers avail­able for the win-bracket game, if we man­age to make it to that.

“So, the runs we scored helped us in more than one way,” the Easton man­ager added. “Since it ob­vi­ously helped us win, and since, if it was, say, 2-1, we’d have had to con­sider, ‘Do we burn one of our top pitch­ers to stay in this game, and maybe be with­out ev­ery­one if we make it to the win­bracket game Tues­day?’ Now, we don’t have to think about that al­ready, at least.”

Easton added three more in the bot­tom of the se­cond, Pey­ton Paugh walk­ing and scor­ing on a wild pitch, and Bobby Fitzhugh driv­ing in Dy­lan Bentz and Roser with a two-out sin­gle.

Hugh­esville nar­rowed the gap in the top half of the third; Trent Ger­hardt, hit by a one-out pitch, moved to se­cond on a walk to J. J. Mitchell, and scored a mo­ment later when Mitchell got caught in a run­down be­tween se­cond and third fol­low­ing a passed ball.

But that was as close as it got, Easton ic­ing things in the bot­tom of the fourth in a big way — Bay­nard blast­ing a three-run homer to dead­cen­ter field to make it 9-3.

Bentz, on the bump in the top of the sixth, closed it out in just over a dozen pitches, striking out two bat­ters.

Notes: Bobby Fitzhugh threw 50 pitches in re­lief, mak­ing him avail­able Tues­day . ... Owen New­nam was 2 for 2 off the bench for Easton; Jack Duke­hart dou­bled and scored a run in the fourth, and Bentz had an in­field sin­gle . ... Hugh­esville, which blew out District 5 champ Elk­ton 11-1, hit four home runs in its tour­na­ment opener Satur­day, to earn a se­cond-round win­bracket berth against District 6.

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