For the first three innings of last night's Little League District II playoff game against host Thurmont, Westminster left-hander D.J. Boone was perfect on the mound.
His Thurmont counterpart, Rusty Wood, also a lefty, was almost as impressive -- yielding only a walk and a hit batsman as the game remained scoreless into the fourth.
While Westminster led at one point, Thurmont rallied and advanced with a 4-2 win.
After both teams scored once in the fourth, Westminster took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth only to see Thurmont take charge with three runs after two outs in its portion of the inning.
Westminster closed out the double-elimination tournament with a 2-2 mark. Tonight, Thurmont plays host to Frederick National in a losers' bracket game.
With Westminster leading 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Boone gave up a leadoff double to Kevin Eiker before striking out the next two batters. Boone quickly got two strikes on second baseman Kyle Smith, batting ninth in the Thurmont order, before yielding a game-tying double between left and center. Leadoff man Lucas Putnam was next with a game-winning, two-run homer over the fence in right center.
"It's kind of tough, we're one pitch away from getting out of the inning," said Westminster manager Butch Adams.
"You have to give [Smith] a lot of credit, he hit a pretty good pitch for the double. You can't ask for much more from a group of 11- and 12-year-olds. It was a well-played game both ways, they just played it a little better than we did."
Boone breezed through the Thurmont lineup the first time around, striking out four and not allowing a base runner through three innings.
When Westminster outfielder Andy McMullin sent a fastball well over the center-field fence in the fourth, it appeared that would be all Boone needed for Westminster to advance.
Thurmont got even with a run in its part of the fourth as Wayne Kerns scored on a sacrifice fly by Troy Eyler. Thurmont could have had more, but Westminster third baseman Scott Carnegie took a perfect relay and threw out Putnam at the plate on a Jason Jenkins' single to left.
Westminster regained the lead in the fifth when Justin Williams' bunt single turned into a run two errors later. The throw got away from the Thurmont first baseman as Williams headed for third. The throw to third was also high allowing him to score.
Those were the only two errors of the game for Thurmont, while Westminster had one.
Wood finished strong with a 1-2-3 sixth to preserve the win. He finished the day allowing just two runs on two hits with eight strike outs.
"D.J.'s our top pitcher in the league this year. He kept throwing strikes and pitched well, but had some real tough breaks," Adams said.
"I thought we needed to be a little more patient [against Wood]. We couldn't seem to get on him and he got more and more aggressive each inning."
Other members of the Westminster 11-12 All-Stars were Scott Carnegie, Joe Ray, Ed Dill, Gordon Stebbings, Brett Ebersole, David Wynne, Brad Baker, John DeCesare and Eric Hoffman.