Game 18
New England
4 vs. Southeast 5
Monday, August 23, 2004
7:00PM ET

Holding on for dear life
Morganton holds off Lincoln after repeated comeback efforts; prevails 5-4

By Mark Rogoff

Morganton coach Wayne Chapman knows just how tough the competition is at the Little League World Series, especially after his team's clash with Lincoln Monday.

"Any win here is a good win," he claims.

And he's right.

The Southeast champs (2-1) were definitely reminded just how good the talent is in South Williamsport as they held off a pair of spirited comeback attempts by Lincoln (1-1) to hold on for a 5-4 victory in front of a capacity crowd of 6,975 at Volunteer Stadium.

The Lincoln Little Leaguers battled back from three-run deficits to pull within one on two occasions late in the game.

Trailing 3-0 in the fourth, Brendan Sullivan knocked in Chris Constantino from third with a single up the middle, and two batters later, Lincoln pulled within one when special pinch runner Jeremy Rhault scored on a passed ball.

After Morganton's Chris Fine poked a two-run homer to left-center field in the bottom of the fourth, Lincoln came right back in the fifth when Chris Constantino slugged a two-out, two-run homer to face a 5-4 deficit.

"I am extremely proud of the kids," said Lincoln coach Charlie Hien. "That's what we've done all year long. I'm disappointed about the loss, but we can hold our heads high."

Morganton's Trevor Tallent allowed two unearned runs in four-plus innings, leaving after giving up a leadoff single to Alex Kay in the fifth.

Eli Lawson came in and induced Damon Divozzi to ground into a double play. Following a Matt Agresta single to right-center field, Constantino hit his first home run of the tournament. Tallent then struck out Zach Trenteseaux to end the inning.

Dykota Spiess came on in the sixth to close it out, allowing a two-out single to Steve Ricci before settling down to strike out P.J. Rampone to end the game.

"Before the inning, Dykota said, 'Don't worry. I got this. We're not going to bat again. It's over,'" Fine said.

As for Fine's home run, which turned out to be the difference in the ballgame, the catcher said, "I was just looking for a hit. I sat on a curveball and luckily it went out. I always come through in this type of situation, and I did again."

Morganton got on the board first in the bottom of the first when Spiess laced a single to left-center field that plated leadoff man Aaron Attaway, who stroked a single to left-center field to open the game.

Lawson cranked a solo homer in the second to make it 2-0. The North Carolinians made it 3-0 when Fine's infield single scored Attaway three batters later.

"Today we were pumped up and we hit the ball well," Lawson said. "We were ready to hit the fastball and wait on the curve."

Added coach Chapman: "We were aggressive in the right situations. I thought our guys did a good job adjusting to their pitches."

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2004 Little League Baseball Incorporated