West Side All Stars win state title, move step closer to Little League World Series

The West Side Little League All Stars beat Tuscarawas County on Wednesday in Ironton to win the state tournament. West Side advances to the Great Lakes Regional  tournament beginning Aug. 8 in Whitestown, Ind. CONTRIBUTED
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The West Side Little League All Stars beat Tuscarawas County on Wednesday in Ironton to win the state tournament. West Side advances to the Great Lakes Regional tournament beginning Aug. 8 in Whitestown, Ind. CONTRIBUTED

Hamilton team to represent Ohio at regionals for 10th time in 12 years

The West Side Little League All-Stars are now one stage away from a trip to Williamsport.

West Side beat Tuscarawas County 6-1 on Wednesday to win the Ohio Little League State Tournament at Ironton National, marking the organization’s 10th state title in 12 years at the 12-and-under age division.

Tuscarawas, which advanced to the final out of the loser’s bracket, had handed West Side its first loss Tuesday, forcing a second game to determine the champion. West Side bounced back and now moves on to the Great Lakes Regional, seeking the organization’s fifth regional title and Little League World Series berth.

“It was a little reality check, our first loss in any game played,” coach Ken Coomer said. “Most games we outscored our opponent pretty good, so it was a wakeup call and I think the kids responded well and I expected them to respond.”

Coomer said the team got to the park early to take some extra swings before the game, and he could tell his players were ready. It took a few innings to get things going offensively, but after scoring two runs in the fourth, West Side gained control.

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Team members are Brady Baumann, Chance Retherford, Cooper Clay, Cooper Oden, Gage Maggard, Gavin Saylor, J.J. Vogel, Kaleb Harden, Krew Brown, Levi Smith, Maddox Jones, Noah Davidson, Tyler Donges and Chase Moak.

“It was a good morning,” Coomer said. “The energy was high, and they were ready to go. With J.J. (Vogel) pitching on the mound, it was looking pretty good. … Tuscarawas is a good team. It was two great wins (out of three) against a great opponent. We just stuck to our game plan: Swing at strikes and throw strikes. We did a pretty good job of that.”

After the final out, West Side erupted in celebration. The players ran around the field with flags and posed for pictures with the championship banner.

West Side also made it to regionals the last time the tournament took place in 2019. This year’s Great Lakes Regional will be held in Whitestown, Ind., beginning Aug. 8.

“It was a good feeling,” Coomer said. “The little town of Hamilton, we take pride in our Little League Baseball. We don’t expect to win, but that’s how we think going into the tournament. We’ve had a great organization and we’re just glad to keep it going over the years.”

West Side had outscored its four district opponents 64-0, then opened the state tournament with a 7-3 win over Jefferson, followed by a 9-5 victory against Tuscarawas and a 15-5 decision over New Albany in the winners’ bracket final.

Although Tuscarawas surprised West Side in Game 1 of the championship, a 5-1 loss, the team remains confident heading into regionals. West Side last made the Little League World Series in 2010.

“We’ve improved a lot,” Coomer said. “Our job as coaches is to build confidence and they just keep getting better and better. I’ve seen a lot of growth the last few weeks. It’s the unknown going into regionals, but we’re not just happy with state. We want to go farther. We’re not just going to regionals, we still have something to achieve.”

West Side will open regional play against the champion from Kentucky at 10 a.m., Aug 8. The game will be televised on ESPN+.