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Hancock 12s move into winner’s bracket

June 28, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The Hancock American 10-12 Little League All-Stars were in a pretty enviable position. Not only did they get a bye in the opening game on Friday, but had two quality pitchers to throw out there.

In Sunday's opening game against Fort Myers American, Ryan Retzloff finessed his way through five innings as Hancock overcame a slow start for a 9-3 victory.

Retzloff allowed three runs on four hits, walking two with eight strikeouts. Kenny Mercedes delivered the big offensive blow with a three-run home run to give Hancock the lead for good.

Hancock moves into the winner's bracket finals against South Fort Myers, which eliminated Hancock in the finals last season.

Hancock assistant coach Brent Ferguson said Retzloff has been big in big situations, such as last season when he dominated Buckingham.

"Ryan has been one of our best pitchers the last two years. He lives in the strike zone, but he always battles and got great defense. It's what we were looking for," Ferguson said.

It wasn't always easy for Retzloff, who had a tough first inning. Seth Cummings led off with a single before Grant Gilmore blasted a two-run home run to give Fort Myers American a 2-0 lead.

Ethan Ackerson got a run back for Hancock in the bottom of the first with an RBI single. Hancock exploded for four runs in the second, with Mercedes' opposite field shot to right being the key hit. Jake Mueller, who also drove in three runs, added an RBI single later in the inning.

"I was working the count and saw my pitch and swung the bat. We played great defense and got the offense going," Mercedes said.

After Gilmore cut the lead to 5-3 with an RBI single in the third, Hancock broke it open on Mueller's two-run single in the third, part of a three-run inning to make it 8-3.

Retzloff cruised after that, baffling the Fort Myers American hitters while not allowing a hit after the third inning. By then, the offense got it together.

"I threw good. My curve ball was on point and my catcher was always setting me up where I needed to go," Retzloff said. "After the home run I needed to bounce back and the hitters did that for me. I needed to pump in that fastball and pitch to contact."

"He was hitting his spots, pitching to contact and letting the defense do the work," catcher Mason Howell said. "We didn't have our best offensive day, but we came in, got some hits, adjusted to the pitcher and did the job."

Retzloff helped his own cause with an RBI single in the fourth to close out the scoring. Ackerson got out of a second-and-third, no-out jam in the sixth to close out the game.

Ferguson said some of his best players aren't playing because of travel ball commitments, but those who have replaced them have filled in well, even if it has made for less power.

"We have a few kids who can swing the bats. We don't rely on the home run, but it comes from time to time," Ferguson said. "A lot of the youngers guys have stepped up for us to fill the voids."

 
 

 

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