Once again, a big inning didn’t happen for Nanticoke at the Little League Major Baseball state tournament. This time, though, it ended any hopes of the state championship.
Nanticoke produced its only runs on solo homers as it was knocked from contention with a 5-2 loss to West Side in an elimination game at Rostraver Township Little League.
District 16 and Section 5 champion Nanticoke still has one game left at the complex about 25 miles south of Pittsburgh. It will play in a consolation game at 1 p.m. Tuesday against Section 1 champ Harborcreek, which lost 14-11 in seven innings to Norwin in an elimination game.
“We’re going to enjoy tomorrow,” Nanticoke manager Al Brown said. “The kids are upbeat. They realize they’ve been given a great opportunity and they were out here enjoying themselves. No matter what, we finish in the top eight in the state. For all but two of them it will be their last ever Little League game. We have two 11-year-olds, but the rest are all 12.
“I told them we’re going to go out and have a fun day at the ballpark and enjoy it. What happens, happens. It’s not a high-pressure situation anymore.”
Nanticoke has scored six runs in two games, but four of them have come on solo home runs.
A big inning was in the making in the second, only to fizzle out. Ethan Egenski led off with a homer to right, his second of the tournament, for a 1-0 lead. Devyn Sura then singled to right and Owen Brown singled to left, putting runners on the corners with no outs.
Then came a strikeout-throw out double play which changed everything. Brown broke for second as Charlie Casey struck out. West Side catcher Jacob Diaz threw short to shortstop Sean Collins, trapping Sura in a rundown. Sura scrambled back to third and was called safe by the third-base umpire. But after the umpires held a conference, Sura was ruled out.
“I thought he beat it back and the third-base umpire called him safe,” Brown said. “The opposing manager appealed for some help and the umpires got together and when they came out of their huddle they called him out. I didn’t argue. It is what it is, but it was a spot where I thought he got back and it would have been second and third with one out. Instead, it turned to a man on second with two outs.”
Had Sura been safe, he would have likely scored as Bryant Keegan followed Casey to the plate and reached on an error. The inning ended on a fielder’s choice.
West Side, the Section 7 champion from West Chester, took the lead for good in the bottom of the third. Collins led off with a double and moved to second on a wild pitch. Diaz then walked and Sean Collinson hit an RBI single to right to tie the game. Ryan Bell, who was running for Diaz, reached second on the single and scampered to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Logan Culp for a 2-1 lead.
West Side increased the lead to 3-1 in the fourth by scoring a run on an error.
Nick Matson cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth with a two-out home run to center. Nanticoke had just two hits over the final four innings, with Matson adding a single in the third. He also doubled in the second, finishing with three of his team’s six hits.
West Side, which will play in an elimination bracket semifinal at 4 p.m. Tuesday, answered back with a two-run homer by Dylan Grim to bump its lead to 5-2.
Nanticoke didn’t threaten in the top of the sixth. Ayden Everett was hit by a pitch with two outs, but Collins recorded the final out to keep West Side’s state hopes alive.
Nanticoke starter Derek Cease struck out eight in 3.2 innings before leaving when he reached his 85-pitch limit. Eddie Smink picked up the win for West Side, fanning eight in four innings.
West Side 5, Nanticoke 2
Nanticoke`AB `R `H `BI
Cease p `3 `0 `0 `0
Spencer ss `3 `0 `0 `0
Matson cf `3 `1 `3 `1
Pistrak 1b`3 `0 `0 `0
Egenski 3b `3 `1 `1 `1
Sura 2b `3 `0 `1 `0
Brown lf `2 `0 `1 `0
Everett ph`0 `0 `0 `0
Casey c `2 `0 `0 `0
Butczynski ph `1 `0 `0 `0
Keegan rf `1 `0 `0 `0
Mackiewicz 3b `1 `0 `0 `0
Totals`25 `2 `6 `2
Malloy cf `3`0`1 `0
Collins ss`3 `1 `1 `1
Diaz c`2 `0 `0 `0
Bell pr-ph`1 `2 `0 `0
DiGregorio 1b`2 `0 `0 `0
Collinson ph`1 `0 `1 `1
Culp 3b`2 `1 `2 `1
Grim lf `3 `1 `2 `2
Siricho rf `1 `0 `0 `0
Snyder rf `2 `0 `1 `0
Smink p`1 `0 `0 `0
Reinheimer 2b`2 `0 `1 `0
Ian M. ph`1 `0 `0 `0
Totals`24 `5 `9 `5
E: Nanticoke 1, West Side 3. LOB: Nanticoke 6, West Side 8. 2B: Matson, Collins. HR: Egenski, Matson, Grim. SAC: Malloy. SF: Culp. SB: Sura.
Nanticoke`IP `H `R `ER `BB `K
Cease (L)`3.2 `6 `3 `2 `2 `8
Egenski`0.2 `3 `2 `2 `0 `2
Piestrak`0.2 `0 `0 `0 `0 `0
West Side`IP `H `R `ER `BB `K
Smink (W)`4.0 `5 `1 `1 `0 `8
Collins (S) `2.0 `1 `1 `1 `0 `2
Next Game: Nanticoke vs. Harborcreek, 1 p.m. Wednesday
Next Game: West Side vs. Mechanicsburg/Keystone loser, 4 p.m. Wednesday
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports