Posted: 7:17 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013

West Side advances to semis despite loss

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West Side advances to semis despite loss photo
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Payton Pennington heads toward third base after hitting a two-run triple. The West Side Little League team of Hamilton, Ohio lost to the Michigan little league team 5-6. The Little League Baseball Central Region Championships continued competition Tuesday, August 6, 2013, at the Reuben F. Glick Little League Baseball Center in Indianapolis. / Doug McSchooler, Contributing photographer
West Side advances to semis despite loss photo
Stringer
Payton Pennington is tagged out at home plate closing out the inning after he knocked in two runs off a triple in the inning. The West Side Little League team of Hamilton, Ohio lost to the Michigan little league team 5-6. The Little League Baseball Central Region Championships continued competition Tuesday, August 6, 2013, at the Reuben F. Glick Little League Baseball Center in Indianapolis. / Doug McSchooler, Contributing photographer

By Jay Morrison

Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS —

In a game they didn’t need to win – and maybe didn’t want to – the Hamilton West Side All-Stars nearly won it anyhow.

Caleb Owens launched a game-tying, three-run home run in the sixth inning, but Michigan stranded the go-ahead run at third base and then strung together three hits in the home half for a 7-6 walkoff win in the pool-play finale of the Great Lakes Regional at Stokely Field.

Despite the loss, West Side (2-2) advanced to Thursday’s single-elimination semifinals as the No. 3 seed, where it will face No. 2 Michigan (2-2) again at 2 p.m., followed by No. 1 Illinois (4-0) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (2-2) at 7.

Had West Side won, it would have been the 2 seed and Michigan the 3, and the two still would have squared off in the next round.

“We didn’t need to win, but you can’t play it that way,” West Side manager Tim Nichting said. “We battled. We want the kids to get the feel of what it’s like to play here. Owens hit that big three-run home run, so what a great memory for him.”

Unlike West Side, Michigan had to win to ensure a spot in the semifinals, and things got a little uneasy in its dugout after Owens’ blast. And they got even more tense when West Side went on to load the bases with one out.

But back-to-back groundouts got Michigan out of the sixth, and Tyler Hill’s one-out single to right scored Jimmy Mazzola with the game-winning run.

“We were just thinking, ‘Let’s put the fire out and keep it 6-6 and score in the bottom of the inning,” Michigan manager Tom Mazzola said.

Needing to win, Mazzola started ace Chad Lorkowski, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound man-child, who went 3 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and five walks and also crushed a long two-run home run. But the good news for West Side is that Lorkowski threw 69 pitches, which means he cannot pitch in Thursday’s game.

“The big kid’s unhittable if he throws strikes,” Nichting said. “We tried to run his pitch count up, and we did. Being 6-2 and throwing from 46 feet, he’s already halfway home. And he can throw it.”

West Side managed four hits for the second game in a row, but the team drew 11 walks after working Indiana for nine free passes Monday.

Payton Pennington had a two-run triple and a bunt single, and Daniel Brunck added an infield hit. Jaylen Robinson walked three times for the second consecutive game and scored a pair of runs. Clayton Detherage also scored twice.

Nichting said Cameron Tenhundfeld will get the start Thursday in the rematch against Michigan.

“We’ll have our ace on the mound, so I like our chances,” he said.

The winner will face the Illinois-Wisconsin victor at 1 p.m. Saturday for the Great Lakes Regional championship and a berth in the Little League World Series.

 
 

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