The rematch turned out to be no match at all.
Hamilton West Side opened the Ohio Little League Tournament with a 10-3 loss to Galion on Saturday, but the locals turned the tables in a big way Thursday night by pounding Galion 15-1 in a four-inning losers’ bracket game at the Hoover Community Recreation Complex.
“We were thinking that we were going to take ’em out,” said Ethan Stone, who delivered two singles, a home run and seven RBIs for the winners. “They got lucky the first game. We didn’t play our best.”
» DAY BY DAY: State tournament schedule/results
» STATE GAME 1: Galion 10, Hamilton West Side 3
» STATE GAME 2: Hamilton West Side 11, Kenton 1
» STATE GAME 3: Hamilton West Side 8, Tallmadge 2
» STATE GAME 4: Hamilton West Side 13, Ironton 3
“We wanted ’em bad,” added teammate Nick Brosius, who pitched three shutout innings and added a double, a single and an RBI at the plate. “We want to win state. We came out hacking real good.”
Jonathan Alcorn was 1-for-1 with four runs for Hamilton — he had a single, walked twice and got hit by a pitch. Camden Carter drove in three runs, Noah Prewitt tripled, singled, plated two runs and scored three times, Noah Licata launched a solo home run, and Clint Moak added two hits.
“I’d say we hit on all cylinders tonight,” West Side coach Tim Nichting said. “It’s going to get a little tougher from here on out, but we’ll give it a run.”
Nichting had special praise for Alcorn in the leadoff spot. He’s hitting .688 at the state tournament and has reached base in his last eight plate appearances, scoring each time.
“You know how well he can hit, and he didn’t get jumpy tonight,” Nichting said. “He played a very good team game and took his walks. He’s learning. He’s becoming what I’d call a complete player.”
Only three teams remain in the double-elimination 12-year-old state baseball tournament. Unbeaten New Albany defeated Boardman 3-1 on Thursday to advance to Saturday’s finals, with West Side and Boardman squaring off in the losers’ bracket final Friday at 6 p.m.
Hamilton needs three more wins to capture its fourth straight state championship, and Nichting will have his top three pitchers available. Stone is eligible to throw again Saturday, and Alcorn and Prewitt can pitch Friday and Saturday.
“We’re right in the middle of this now. Funny things can happen,” Nichting said. “If we aren’t good enough to beat Boardman, then we’ll tip our hat to Boardman and move on. But we’ve made a nice run, and our run isn’t over yet.
“We weren’t ready to play that first game against Galion. Whether it was coaching or whatever, we just weren’t ready to play. But we’ve grown a lot in the last four, five days. I think our kids off the bench and even the starters understand that every at-bat counts, even if you’re only getting one.”
Galion was never in the rematch. Gary Frankhouse’s team was coming off an emotional 10-inning win over Berlin East Holmes on Wednesday night, and Galion didn’t stay in the North Canton area this week (it’s about a 90-mile drive one way).
Asked if his squad was emotionally spent, Frankhouse replied, “That’s fair.”
“We looked lethargic,” he said. “I had a couple kids laying in the outfield in batting practice … I thought that could be a bad sign. This tournament is a haul, so congratulations to West Side. They hit the ball hard, and if you’re hitting the ball, you’re winning.”
Galion managed just two hits against Brosius and Peyton Eldridge, avoiding the shutout in the fourth when Chase Studer tripled and came home on Carson Frankhouse’s RBI ground out.
“I was hitting my spots and my breaker was over the plate most of the time,” Brosius said. “They swung for it. A good defense behind me helps too.”
Jayden Leach, Carter Weaver and Quinn Frankhouse did the pitching for Galion. All three struggled against the surging Hamilton offense.
Gary Frankhouse said he was heading home with positive thoughts about the state tournament.
“My prayer before every game is keep everybody safe — players, opponents, umps, fans, parents — and as long as that happens, it’s a good thing,” Frankhouse said. “I’m proud of what the kids learned yesterday, and the biggest thing is to take that into the future.
“That’s the key. That’s what Little League’s about. Character, courage, loyalty — those are the three principles, and that’s why I love the whole Little League experience. It’s really not about winning and losing. It’s about that Little League pledge.”
West Side 337-2—15-13-0
WP — Nick Brosius; LP — Jayden Leach; HR — WS: Ethan Stone, Noah Licata