Hinsdale’s sixth-inning rally sends West Side to stunning 5-4 defeat

Hinsdale (Ill.) runner Emerson Eck (3) celebrates scoring the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday as Hamilton West Side suffered a 5-4 defeat in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. That’s West Side pitcher Ethan Mueller on the ground after trying to make the play at the plate. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Caption
Hinsdale (Ill.) runner Emerson Eck (3) celebrates scoring the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday as Hamilton West Side suffered a 5-4 defeat in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. That’s West Side pitcher Ethan Mueller on the ground after trying to make the play at the plate. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

The road to the Little League World Series has become a whole lot tougher for Hamilton West Side.

Cruising toward a spot in the Great Lakes Regional title game, Hamilton watched Hinsdale (Ill.) score four times in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday afternoon to pull off a stunning 5-4 victory at Grand Park Sports Campus.

PHOTOS: Greg Lynch’s gallery from the game

Emerson Eck scored the winning run on a two-out wild pitch from Ethan Mueller as West Side’s 12-year-old baseball team lost for the first time in 11 postseason games.

“We beat ourselves. We choked,” Hamilton coach Ken Coomer said. “I think they only hit two or three balls to the outfield the whole game. We come to the sixth inning, and we just made too many mistakes. (Lake) Cundiff pitched the game of his life. He did everything you want from a pitcher.”

Hinsdale, a first-time regional qualifier, advanced to Saturday’s winner-take-all championship game. Hamilton will play either Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Mich.) or Lexington Eastern (Ky.) at 5 p.m. on Friday, but its top two pitchers — Cundiff and Braedyn Moore — won’t be available due to pitch-count rules.

“It was set up perfectly for us. Now we’re going to test our pitching,” Coomer said. “It’s disappointing right now. You’re still full with emotions right after the game, and when emotions set in, you’re negative thinking. We’ve got another day to practice and keep working. It’s up to the kids to see how bad they want it.”

Cundiff threw 5.1 strong innings before reaching the single-game limit of 85 pitches. He allowed nine hits and struck out seven.

“That kid is an amazing pitcher,” Hinsdale coach Anthony Waelter said. “If he’s their No. 2, that’s scary. He’s about as good a pitcher as we’ve seen.”

Hinsdale, a first-time regional qualifier, had three singles in the sixth and took advantage of several Hamilton errors, not all of which were physical.

REGIONAL GAME 1: Hamilton West Side 22, Wausau National (Wis.) 4

REGIONAL GAME 2: Hamilton West Side 10, Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Mich.) 2

“Going into the sixth, we were just thinking get on base,” Waelter said. “These guys don’t give up. They knew something fun was going to happen. They just didn’t know who was going to step up. They were all looking at each other saying, ‘Who’s going to do it?’

“This is a game of inches. It’s a situation where every guy has to get up and take their time and relax and do what they need to do to make something happen. That’s what they did.”

Joe Boggs and Ben Oosterbaan started the Hinsdale sixth with singles. Max Merlo loaded the bases when he reached on a fielder’s choice and the ball was dropped at second base.

Caption
Hamilton West Side pitcher Lake Cundiff (6) deals to the plate Wednesday during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Hamilton West Side pitcher Lake Cundiff (6) deals to the plate Wednesday during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Caption
Hamilton West Side pitcher Lake Cundiff (6) deals to the plate Wednesday during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Reece Kolke’s RBI infield single made it 4-2, and Max Williams made it 4-3 on an RBI fielder’s choice. Mueller replaced Cundiff at that point.

With runners on second and third, Jakobi Lange lined out to shortstop Moore, who tried to tag Eck (who was safe) going back to second. In the meantime, Kolke raced home with the tying run. Moore’s throw to the plate was wild, sending Eck to third.

Leadoff hitter Evan Phillips was at the plate when Mueller’s wild pitch ended the game. Eck said he wasn’t waiting for anybody to tell him to go.

“I felt like I had to be the decision maker,” said Eck, who was running for Williams. “When I saw the ball go in the dirt, I knew I had to score.”

Caption
Hamilton West Side’s Blake Detherage (13) celebrates after hitting a double during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus on Wednesday in Westfield, Ind. Hinsdale’s Ben Oosterbaan (7) is at the bag. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Hamilton West Side’s Blake Detherage (13) celebrates after hitting a double during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus on Wednesday in Westfield, Ind. Hinsdale’s Ben Oosterbaan (7) is at the bag. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Caption
Hamilton West Side’s Blake Detherage (13) celebrates after hitting a double during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus on Wednesday in Westfield, Ind. Hinsdale’s Ben Oosterbaan (7) is at the bag. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

The West Side players looked dazed after the game. Little League rules prohibit interviews with players from a losing team.

Blake Detherage (3-for-4, two RBIs), Katelyn Polido (2-for-3, two runs) and Jaycee Taylor (two-run double) led Hamilton, which stranded eight runners.

Boggs was 3-for-3 for Hinsdale, while Phillips, Oosterbaan and Kolke added two hits apiece. Oosterbaan drove in a run.

“We missed a lot of scoring opportunities early in the game, and that came back and bit us,” Coomer said. “We knew Hinsdale was a pesky group. We know they’re not a power team. They just did their job and made us make plays.”

Caption
Hamilton West Side second baseman Davis Avery (4) catches a popup near teammate Braedyn Moore on Wednesday during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Hamilton West Side second baseman Davis Avery (4) catches a popup near teammate Braedyn Moore on Wednesday during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Caption
Hamilton West Side second baseman Davis Avery (4) catches a popup near teammate Braedyn Moore on Wednesday during a 5-4 loss to Hinsdale (Ill.) in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Oosterbaan pitched 2.2 innings and picked up the mound win in relief of Charlie Bergin and Merlo.

Waelter thinks Hinsdale will see West Side again Saturday.

“They are a very good team,” he said. “I was really impressed.”

West Side 102-100—4-7-2

Hinsdale 000-104—5-9-1

WP — Ben Oosterbaan; LP — Lake Cundiff

Great Lakes Regional

Here is the schedule for the Great Lakes Regional at the Grand Park Sports Campus, 711 E. 191st St., Westfield, Ind. Games will be played on Diamond 17 and the format will be modified double elimination:

Sunday, Aug. 6

Hamilton West Side 22, Wausau National (Wis.) 4, four innings

Lexington Eastern (Ky.) 1, New Albany (Ind.) 0

Monday, Aug. 7

Hamilton West Side 10, Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Mich.) 2

Hinsdale (Ill.) 5, Lexington Eastern (Ky.) 2

Tuesday, Aug. 8

Lexington Eastern (Ky.) 10, Wausau National (Wis.) 5

Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Mich.) 4, New Albany (Ind.) 3

Wednesday, Aug. 9

Hinsdale (Ill.) 5, Hamilton West Side 4

Thursday, Aug. 10

Game 8 — Lexington Eastern (Ky.) vs. Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Mich.), 5 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 11

Game 9 — Hamilton West Side vs. Game 8 winner, 5 p.m.

Championship

Saturday, Aug. 12

Game 10 — Hinsdale (Ill.) vs. Game 9 winner, 5 p.m.

Caption
Hinsdale (Ill.) runner Emerson Eck (3) scores the winning run on a wild pitch Wednesday in a 5-4 victory over Hamilton West Side in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. Trying to make the play for West Side are catcher Blake Detherage and pitcher Ethan Mueller. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Hinsdale (Ill.) runner Emerson Eck (3) scores the winning run on a wild pitch Wednesday in a 5-4 victory over Hamilton West Side in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. Trying to make the play for West Side are catcher Blake Detherage and pitcher Ethan Mueller. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Caption
Hinsdale (Ill.) runner Emerson Eck (3) scores the winning run on a wild pitch Wednesday in a 5-4 victory over Hamilton West Side in the Little League Great Lakes Regional at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind. Trying to make the play for West Side are catcher Blake Detherage and pitcher Ethan Mueller. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

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