The long ball gave Hamilton West Side some much-needed juice Monday night in the Ohio Little League Tournament.
Jonathan Alcorn, Noah Prewitt and Eddie Tanner all launched two-run homers as Hamilton tallied nine runs in its last three at-bats and overpowered Kenton 11-1 in five innings at the Hoover Community Recreation Complex.
The double-elimination event will continue for West Side — which lost to Galion 10-3 in Saturday’s opener — with a 1 p.m. contest against Tallmadge on Tuesday.
» DAY BY DAY: State tournament schedule/results
» STATE GAME 1: Galion 10, Hamilton West Side 3
“Once we got it going, we got it up to 11 runs. I can’t complain about that,” Hamilton coach Tim Nichting said. “We just need to get some confidence. We don’t have the confidence to come out and blow a team out. We just seem to hang around and hang on.”
West Side will need to win six more games over the next five days to capture its fourth straight 12-year-old state championship.
“Hopefully this losers’ bracket will give us some confidence and help feed into the next game,” Nichting said. “We’ve just got a lot of timid kids that won’t go up there to swing it and hit it. But we’re working on it. We’re hitting every day and trying to get better.”
Hamilton did put up two runs in the top of the first inning, but didn’t really find its groove until after the first of two weather delays.
Mother Nature halted the game for 61 minutes after two full innings and for 13 minutes after three full innings.
West Side scored three times in the third, sparked by an Alcorn home run that was simply crushed. The ball landed on the field behind the left-field fence.
“It felt great when I hit that home run,” Alcorn said. “He threw it right down the middle, so I thought I might as well try to hit it over, so I did.”
Prewitt and Tanner both went deep in a six-run fifth, adding to a nine-hit attack for the winners against Kenton hurlers Tim Wilkinson (who went the first four-plus innings) and Sam Taylor.
“We’ve been throwing pretty hard to the kids, and it took a little bit to get this kid timed up because he wasn’t throwing real hard,” Nichting said. “He was throwing strikes, but we were a little jumpy today.”
Asked if his squad was helped by the delays, the Hamilton coach said, “I think we were going to play better as the game went on no matter what. The top of the order was coming up (in the third). I think we were going to score some runs either way.”
Alcorn, Nick Brosius and Camden Carter combined on a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts for West Side. Alcorn was lifted after 1.1 innings and 20 pitches, Brosius threw 3.1 frames with 49 pitches, and Carter got the last out.
Alcorn looked sharp and clearly had his fastball working. He faced five batters, striking out four and hitting one.
“We knew we had to hit the ball to stay in it, and unfortunately we just didn’t,” Kenton coach Chad Thrush said. “But give credit to their pitchers. They had to keep us off balance and throw strikes and do what they needed to do. They weren’t putting us on and walking us.”
Ethan Stone had two hits and three RBIs for Hamilton. Tanner, Prewitt and Alcorn all contributed two hits, while Prewitt tripled and scored three times. Nichting said Stone will get the mound start against Tallmadge.
“Their hitters came through,” Thrush said. “We tried to do a few things with offspeed and trying to throw outside and keeping some guys tight inside. But at this age, you’re going to have kids that are going to miss locations, and their guys took advantage of it.”
Kenton marked an unearned run in the third inning. Seth Leffler came home in a first-and-third steal situation when Hamilton threw down to get the runner at second.
The defeat knocked Kenton out of the state tournament. The program has never won a game at this level.
“I told the guys I’m really looking forward to the next six years. Not necessarily coaching them, but watching them play six more years together,” said Thrush, the principal at Kenton High School. “That’s the cool part. All of them are from the same high school, so hopefully I’ll see them really contributing together as seniors.”
West Side 203-06—11-9-1
WP — Nick Brosius; LP — Tim Wilkinson; HR — WS: Jonathan Alcorn, Noah Prewitt, Eddie Tanner