Jacob Baker was the right kid at the right time Tuesday afternoon.
A regular substitute for Hamilton West Side, Baker rose up with two hits and two RBIs off the bench as Hamilton remained alive in the losers’ bracket of the Ohio Little League Tournament with an 8-2 victory over Tallmadge.
It was Baker’s two-run double in the top of the fourth inning that erased a 2-1 deficit and pushed West Side ahead for good at the Hoover Community Recreation Complex.
» DAY BY DAY: State tournament schedule/results
» STATE GAME 2: Hamilton West Side 11, Kenton 1
» STATE GAME 1: Galion 10, Hamilton West Side 3
“They gave me the take sign at the first pitch,” Baker said. “After two strikes, I just wanted to make contact and that’s what I did and put it into the gap. It felt real good.”
Hamilton coach Tim Nichting said Baker’s hit “gave us the little momentum we needed to move forward. Bake likes to pull the ball a little bit, and he stayed back and shot it out to right field with two strikes. All the credit to him. He came to play today.”
Baker added a single and scored twice for West Side in support of pitchers Ethan Stone and Jonathan Alcorn, who combined for a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts. Stone threw the first four innings to earn the win, and Alcorn finished to get the save.
Nichting said Clint Moak will get the mound start Wednesday at 6 p.m. when Hamilton meets Ironton in another losers’ bracket affair in the double-elimination event.
West Side is 2-1 at state, having opened with a loss to Galion and then a win over Kenton. The locals need five more victories to claim their fourth consecutive 12-year-old state title.
“We had a good attitude and good energy today,” Nichting said. “This week is a long haul, but I like our chances. I still think we can get in the middle of this and create a little noise.”
Alcorn collected three hits and Noah Prewitt had two in the conquest of Tallmadge. Prewitt and Nick Brosius drove in two runs apiece, and Eddie Tanner and Moak each marked an RBI.
Baker’s game-changing double was surprising. Not because he’s a poor hitter, but because the role of a substitute isn’t easy.
“You just get put on the spot, and they expect a lot out of you,” Baker said. “You can do it, but you’re not warm yet. Then you just come off the bench and you’ve got to do your job.”
Nichting said his team’s overall offense is improving.
“We’re building. We’re swinging the bats a little better every day,” he said. “I still think we’ve got another gear offensively. Bake got the big hit when we needed it today, but it wouldn’t have happened if the kids in front of him weren’t getting on base.”
Stone threw 65 pitches and Alcorn totaled 35. Stone isn’t eligible to throw again until Saturday’s finals if Hamilton gets there, while Alcorn can’t have mound duty again until Thursday.
West Side 010-304—8-9-3
WP — Ethan Stone; LP — Michael Ciavolella; S — Jonathan Alcorn