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Two Hancock teams headed to states

July 12, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

It has been a very successful season for Hancock Little League. It's 9-strong and 10-12-year-old teams each made it to the district championship game, and this past weekend two others were about to take things much farther.

Hancock's Senior Little League team swept through its sectional tournament at Sam Fleishman Sports Complex in Fort Myers, while the 50/70 team went to Venice and punched its ticket to the state tournament with a victory there.

For the senior team, it's the second straight year of going to state, and with many of those players back this season as 16-year-olds, their chances of winning a state title may be better than last.

Article Photos

The Hancock Senior Little League squad show off the championship banner following their 10-0 victory over San Carlos on Sunday at Fleishman Sports Complex in Fort Myers.

"I'm so proud of them. They're a great group of kids," Hancock coach Brian Porvaznik said. "These kids have played together since they were 7 years old, so they mean a lot to me."

It wasn't easy for the seniors as Hancock trailed for much of its game Saturday against Venice as sloppy play contributed to problems.

Hancock battled back late as a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning earned Hancock a walk-off with a 4-3 win.

Sunday's game was over early as Hancock scored early and often to notch a 10-0 mercy-rule win over San Carlos on the strength of Jordan Dence's complete-game, one-hit shutout and San Carlos' inability to find the plate from the mound.

Hancock scored four runs in the second inning, two in the third and four in the fourth on just five hits. However, 13 walks doomed San Carlos.

Chris Elias scored three times while Parker Pre-Genzer drove in two from the ninth-spot in the batting order. Brock Balsey had two hits for Hancock.

Unlike last season, where Hancock played at Fleishman Park, they must go to Tallahassee to play starting Friday. They'll have to raise some money to go.

Porvaznik said that won't be much of a problem as he is anxious to give this group another shot at a national title.

"We're going to go and represent Fort Myers the best we can. We have two kids who couldn't play as they were in other tournaments," Porvaznik said. "Last year we lost two one-run games with 15-year-olds. This year, if they play like they're capable of playing, we'll be okay."

Justin Bethke, who pitched Hancock to victory in game one, said things started rough before everyone got on the same page.

"After everyone started hitting the ball, we just kept going. I knew we had the game in the bag," Bethke said. "Everyone did fantastic and I think we'll do great in Tallahassee."

The 50/70 team, which plays the game with different dimensions that helps it play like real baseball, had to hit the road for a best-of-three series with Venice. It was all Hancock as they played great baseball against a very tough team.

Gavin Lepore and Colin Garland each pitched complete games for Hancock as they won both games on the mercy rule 12-2 and 11-1, respectively.

Garland contributed at the plate with a home run, as did catcher Dakota Wilson. Ryan Hufnagel hit two for a team that has already started playing on the big-league field.

"It was a complete team effort. Everyone contributed," said Jason Hause, coach of the 50/70 team. "We've played 50/70 all year long, so they're used to it. They also played 60/90 a little, too."

Hancock has benefitted from the departure of North Fort Myers to Babe Ruth, allowing it to expand its talent pool, but it also takes hard work on the practice field which both teams have done this entire summer.

"We are a smaller league, so we don't have as many kids to choose from, but we get a lot of practice time in. We have great coaches, and I know my team practiced all week. I think that's where it comes from," Hause said.



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