By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
MILTON -- In a game that featured 36 runs and 36 hits, it was pitching that won Friday's elimination bracket game at the Pennsylvania 9-10 year old Little League state baseball tournament.
No, that's not a typo.
West Point's Matt Wicker and Isaac Echard limited a Twin Valley offense that scored 13 runs in the first inning to just two runs over the final five.
Meanwhile, the only thing hotter than the weather was West Point's bats. The Section 2 champions' three through six hitters combined for 11 hits and 13 runs batted in as West Point stayed alive with a 21-15 victory at Feichtel Field at the Brown Avenue Complex in Milton.
"They've been in games in the past where we've fallen behind early," West Point manager Alan Hipps said. "These kids have played together since they were five and six. We knew we had the bats to get back into the game."
West Point will play the winner of Friday's late game between Warwick and DuBois. That game will be at 11 a.m. today. Danville and Middletown play in the winners' bracket final in the first game, beginning at 8 a.m. Both games were moved to the morning due to the excessive heat.
Wicker entered the game during Twin Valley's first-inning onslaught and allowed five runs, but after that, he allowed only two hits, before leaving in the fifth due to the pitch count rules. Echard entered the game with two outs in the fourth, allowed two unearned runs, and then proceeded to retire the final nine hitters of the game.
"I was nervous when I went into pitch," Echard said. "The heat made it really tough, too."
"Matt has been great for us all year," Hipps said. "Echard hasn't pitched as much. He did a phenomenal job."
Wicker hit a two-run double and Bryce Butler added an RBI double of his own as West Point opened up a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, but that was a spot Twin Valley had been in before.
The Section 7 champions fell behind by the same score in their elimination bracket win on Thursday and answered on Friday with a 13-run, 11-hit outburst in the first inning. Twin Valley set 18 hitters to the plate in the inning.
Dominick Kennedy knocked in two runs in the inning with a single and fielder's choice. Jeremy Deihm had two RBI doubles. Bradley Rutherford had two RBI fielder's choices. Ben Dayton added a two-run triple, and Brody Belgrade added a two-run single.
West Point answered with a five-run outburst in the top of the second to get right back in the game, all the runs coming with two outs. Andrew Rosenberg (5-for-5) singled and went to second on an error.
After an error, Wicker and Josh Barth had back-to-back RBI singles. Connor Mondock had a bases-loaded walk and Michael Hook capped the scoring with a two-run single to bring West Point back to 13-8.
"I think it was important for us to score in the second inning and just keep things rolling offensively. We didn't get down," Hipps said.
"We held them scoreless in the next inning and you could just feel the momentum turn."
Reed Hipps' RBI single and an error added two more runs for West Point in the third to cut the lead to 13-10, but Twin Valley made an impressive defensive stand in the fourth to remain in the lead.
The Section 7 champs threw a West Point runner out at home on the back end of a double play with no outs to keep their lead at three.
Twin Valley added two insurance runs in the fourth on two West Point errors, and John Bender's RBI single to take a 15-10 lead, but Twin Valley's pitching finally relented in the heat.
The West Point fifth started with two walks before Wicker singled home a run to trim the lead to 15-11.
Barth then cut it to 15-14 with a three-run homer. Butler singled ahead of a Mondock two-run homer and, all of a sudden, the Section 2 champs led 16-15.
Twin Valley got out of the inning without further damage, but West Point added five more runs in the sixth. Mondock had an RBI fielder's choice and Rosenberg a two-run double in the inning.