Anyone watching the elimination game between West End and Altoona on Wednesday night could tell from the first inning that nothing was going to come easy.
West End managed to create a four-run lead before seeing it dissolve into a one-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The five runs were quickly answered, though, as Ian Dinsmore's seventh-inning three-run triple helped give West End a 12-5 victory in the 13-15-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament at Logue Field.
After falling behind in the sixth inning, West End answered right back. Dominick Bragalone led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a single and advanced on a wild pitch before being driven home by a Tommy Baggett single to tie the game. With the bases loaded after two singles and an error on an attempted sacrifice, Dinsmore drove the 1-0 pitch to deep center field for the bases-clearing triple.
"I don't know what it is," said West End manager Scott Niklaus. "They never give up. Even when we lost to this team in the first game, we didn't give up. There is something about these guys that they just hang in there."
With the win West End (3-2) advances to play Valley West (3-1) at 8 tonight at Logue Field.
"We have to fix that pitching (to beat Valley West)," Niklaus said. "We have to stop making errors. It's the small details that make the difference."
After falling behind by four runs, Altoona made a comeback in the sixth inning against reliever Sam Buck. Joel Reighard reached on an error to lead off the inning and scored on a Tanner Snyder single two batters later.
A Josh DeGol double scored another run and two more errors were committed to tie the score at 4-4.
With the score tied, what was arguably the play of the night put Altoona on top. Thad Campbell stood on third base and stared at West End reliever Bradley Walter before breaking for home as Walter began his windup. Campbell raced down the line, eventually sliding underneath the tag of Damone Buxton to give Altoona the lead.
It took until the third inning for West End's offense to finally break through against Altoona's Matt Gormley. After David Sanders grounded out and Noah Esposito flew out to left field, Justin Niklaus laced a double to give West End its first hit.
Dinsmore followed with a walk before an error on Altoona's Trent Martin allowed Niklaus to score and Dinsmore eventually come around when a pitch hit Bailey Young with the bases loaded.
Gormley, who had faced just seven batters through the first two innings, seemed to unravel after the two-run third inning. Gormley allowed two runs in the fourth inning as West End loaded the bases on two singles and a walk.
Niklaus then drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in Tommy Baggett before an Anthony Caruso single gave West End their fourth run of the game.
Even with the game seemingly won, West End didn't quit at the plate. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Dominick Bragalone laced a three-run inside-the-park home run into the right-center gap to give West End a seven-run lead.
"The guys didn't quit. They overcame some mental lapses and just went back to work with the bats," Niklaus said. "They seem to always come through when they need to."
West End 002 200 8 12 12 6
Altoona 000 005 0 5 4 4
David Sanders, Sam Buck (4), Bradley Walter (6) and Damone Buxton. Matt Gormley, Trent Martin (4), Joel Reighard (7) and Austin Pope.
Top West End hitters: Ian Dinsmore 1-3, 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 BB; Dominick Bragalone 2-5, HR, 3 RBIs. Top Altoona hitters: Thad Campbell 0-2, R, SB; Josh DeGol 1-3, 2B, RBI.
Records: West End 3-2. Altoona 3-2.