Hamilton West Side is starting to get cranked up in the losers’ bracket of the Ohio Little League Tournament.
A first-game loss to Galion stung the locals, but they’ve rebounded with three victories in their quest for a fourth straight 12-year-old state baseball title.
Ironton was the latest victim Wednesday night at the Hoover Community Recreation Complex as Jonathan Alcorn’s hot bat led Hamilton to a 13-3 triumph in five innings.
» 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
“I still think we’ve got another gear of hitting the ball,” West Side coach Tim Nichting said. “I’m not going to say I’m glad we’re in the losers’ bracket, but I think my team is starting to find out who they are. It seems like every game we hit the ball a little better.”
Alcorn is hitting .667 at the state tournament and ripped a single, a double and a solo home run. He also walked and scored four times in the leadoff spot.
“The Alcorn kid really lit it up tonight,” Nichting said. “He’s a strong kid. As long as we keep him patient and under control and he just gives us good swings, he hits as well as anybody.”
Eddie Tanner plated three runs, while Noah Prewitt and Ethan Stone both drove in two, as Hamilton earned a rematch with Galion on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Galion, a 10-3 winner over West Side on Saturday, outlasted Berlin East Holmes 9-7 in 10 innings on Wednesday night.
“To me, if I was a kid, I think I’d want to get back at ’em,” Nichting said. “So I think we’ll come out with a little vengeance and want to get a little revenge.”
Nichting said he’ll likely choose between Alcorn and Prewitt to start on the mound. Galion coach Gary Frankhouse said he’ll go with his No. 1, Jayden Leach, who started the first contest against Hamilton.
Frankhouse thinks his players will stay at a high emotional level after the lengthy win over East Holmes. Galion tied the game with Derek Prosser’s two-run homer in the fifth, then broke a 6-6 deadlock with three runs in the top of the 10th.
“My big theory right now is thought precedes action. That’s what I’ve been preaching to the kids,” Frankhouse said. “When we were down 6-4, I said to my son, ‘You’re going to get a single and DP’s going to get a home run and we’re tying this game up.’ And that’s the way it went.
“I think God was helping me impress upon these boys a lesson of life. We’ve already won the tournament based on that to me.”
West Side has outscored Kenton, Tallmadge and Ironton 32-6 in the losers’ bracket.
Prewitt and Nick Brosius both had two hits against Ironton, and Brosius scored three runs. Hamilton lifted five sacrifice flies in the game, certainly a rarity for Little League.
“We were pumped,” Tanner said. “We went in there swinging the bat, and we just played how we knew how to play. I just want to give this win to the team. We did real well.”
Clint Moak, Sam Floyd and Tanner combined for a six-hitter on the mound. Moak went 1.2 innings and allowed three runs in the bottom of the first as Ironton kicked off its offensive night with five hits and a walk in its first six batters.
Floyd, a left-hander, pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win, and Tanner got the last two outs. It was Floyd’s first pitching duty in about six weeks.
“I throw like 20 to 25 (pitches) every three days or so just to work,” Floyd said. “It feels pretty good to get back on the mound, and the defense was great like always.”
Was his official return to the mound marked by excitement or nerves?
“A little bit of both,” Floyd said. “I’m just glad Jesus gave me the opportunity to do that.”
“The Floyd kid came in and threw terrific,” Nichting said. “Being left-handed probably helps him a little bit. Kids aren’t used to that different look. Give Sam all the credit in the world. He threw a gem.”
West Side jumped to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, only to watch Ironton make it a one-run game in the bottom of the frame. Moak and Floyd both officially threw 35 pitches, and Floyd had three strikeouts and no walks while giving up one hit.
“They maintained us after the first inning,” Ironton coach Travis Wylie said. “Their pitchers did what they needed to do, so we tip our caps to them. We don’t face too many lefties. That kid kept us off balance.”
Hunter Freeman, Brady Moatz and Brady Medinger all drove in runs for Ironton, which finished 1-2 at state. Jon Wylie threw three innings and took the loss on the mound.
“This is not the way we wanted to end it at all, but these kids have worked hard since they were 7 years old,” Travis Wylie said. “We’re fortunate to be here and be one of the six remaining teams in the state. We’re proud of that.”
West Side 432-04—13-11-4
WP — Sam Floyd; LP — Jon Wylie; HR — WS: Jonathan Alcorn