Levittown had two runners in scoring position in the top of the fifth inning. Two outs, down 2-1. A perfect opportunity for Levittown's lead-off hitter, Gary Minnes to bring the runners home and take command.
But West End pitcher Tanner Esposito had other ideas.
Esposito, as he did all night, hit his spot. Minnes grounded out to third and shortstop Owen Kiess let out a big "Whoo!" while Esposito quietly walked off the mound. It was his moment under the lights and he took it.
West End's Hunter Webb is congratulated by teammate Cam Pardoe after scoring during the game against Levittown Friday night at Logue Field.
Esposito stranded four runners in scoring position and pitched a five-inning three-hitter as West End moved to 2-0 in the 14-year old Middle Atlantic Regional with its 4-1 win over in-state rival Levittown Friday night at Logue Field.
"Very big, oh my gosh," Esposito said of getting out of the fifth-inning jam. "I was sweating out there pretty bad. I thought they were going to pull me."
West End manager George Lepley showed confidence in Esposito and the latter rewarded him for it. It wasn't Esposito's first jam that he was in. Earlier in the game, Levittown had the bases loaded with two outs and he stayed calm and let his defense make the play.
"I thought that he did a good job of hitting his spots," said Lepley. "By and large he threw a good game. Ryan Jolin caught a great game and our defense played great. We had a couple of really good plays by Ethan (Stryker) at first base and we had a couple of really good plays by our second baseman, Caleb Joy."
Esposito didn't overpower the hitters, as he didn't record a strikeout. But he did place his pitches so his defense could make a play. After having four errors in its first game Thursday, the West End defense played much better and made tough plays all game.
"They came through with a lot of good plays. Really helped me out, kept my confidence up," Esposito said.
"We did play a lot better defense. There weren't a lot of strikeouts, of the other team. Obviously they were putting the ball in play and we made the plays to get them out," Lepley added.
The hits and runs weren't as abundant as Thursday's game against Mt. Olive, N.J. when it had 13 runs and 14 hits, but it did, though, make the plays it needed to.
With two runners in scoring position and two outs, the same position Levittown was in a half inning earlier, but this time, West End got the hit. Stryker's two-run single to left-center field gave West End some breathing room.
"I'll tell you what, I was having a hard time breathing over there," said Lepley. "It's a one-run game. At any point, as soon as the runner gets on, you have the go-ahead run at the plate. They were one run away from taking the lead away from us. Then we come in with two outs, Ethan comes up big with a two RBI single."
West End scored a run in the second and third inning. The first coming on Tyler Mankey's RBI single and the other on Hunter Webb's RBI double.
Isaac Snyder, who got the win on Thursday, came in the sixth inning and struck out the first two batters he faced and after allowing a lead-off walk in the seventh, he retired the next three batters to earn the save.
"Him (Esposito) and Isaac are both really gutty performers on the mound. To be honest, they both really strive in coming in and closing. They're really good starters, but they really strive coming in closing also. This team had us beat in the state championship game and we managed to come back from behind and win."
West End will be at the field at 7:15 this morning to prepare for its makeup game at 9 against Paulino, N.Y., and also has a game at 5. And Esposito and his teammates have their sights set on one thing, getting that first seed.
There were three games earlier in the day with North Syracuse, N.Y. winning Game 1, 11-9 over Piedmont, Del. Piedmont took an early 4-0 lead in the first inning, but North Syracuse followed with seven runs in the bottom half. Piedmont cut the lead to one in two more times but couldn't get any closer. Ryan Carson had three hits, a double and two RBIs for North Syracuse while Ben Clark and Frank Levanti added two hits apiece.
In Game 2, Mt. Olive, N.J. defeated Paulino, N.Y. 7-1 to stay unbeaten. Michael Ferranti three six strong innings and Mt. Olive scored six first inning runs. Zach Fike had a two-run single to lead Mt. Olive.
In Game 3, Altoona scored the last two runs but it wouldn't be enough as it lost to 3-0 Rotterdam, N.Y., 7-4. Rotterdam scored six runs in the third and fourth inning after falling behind 1-0.
West End 4, Levittown 1
Levittown 000 100 0- 1 3 1
West End 011 020 x- 4 8 1
Blake Fleming and Nate Erhard. Tanner Esposito, Isaac Snyder (6th) and Ryan Jolin. W- Esposito (1-0). L- Fleming. S- Snyder.
Top Levittown hitters: Nate Erhard 1-3 2B, R; Nick Price 0-1 BB, RBI. Top West End hitters: Ethan Stryker 2-3 2 RBI; Hunter Webb 2-3 2 2B, RBI, R; Tyler Mankey 1-2 RBI; Cam Pardoe 1-1 BB, 2 R; Tanner Esposito 0-1 2 BB, R.
Records: West End (2-0); Levittown (1-2)
Next: West End vs. Paulino (Today at 9am); Levittown vs. Paulino (Today)
North Syracuse, N.Y. 11, Piedmont, Del. 9
Piedmont 400 023 0- 9 12 3
North Syracuse 700 022 x- 11 10 3
Daniel Bera, Andrew Brady (2nd) and Matt Pema.
Brandon Exner, Owen Desocia (2nd), Cameron Williams (6th) and Frank Levanti.
Top Piedmont hitters: Andrew Brady 2-4 2B, 2 SB, RBI, 3 R; Marcus Brooks 2-4 2B, 3B, 4 RBI; Justin Tomovich 3-4 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R. Top North Syracuse hitters: Ryan Carson 3-4 2 R; Ben Clark 2-3 2B, 3 RBI; Frank Levanti 2-3 2 RBI, 2 SB, 2 R.
Records: North Syracuse (1-1); Piedmont (0-2)
Next: N. Syracuse vs. Nottingham, N.J. (Sun. at 10); Piedmont vs. Nottingham (Today at 2)
Mt. Olive, N.J. 7,
Paulino, N.Y. 1
Mt. Olive 601 000 0- 7 5 7
Piedmont 000 010 0- 1 4 4
Michael Ferranti, Zack Richardson (6th) and Jack Calandra. Jose Navaro, Ryan Motierar (3rd) and Ronaldo Rodriguez.
Top Mt. Olive hitters: Jack Calandra 2-4 R; Chris Walako 0-1 2 BB, SB, 2 R; Zach Fike 1-3 2 RBI, R. Top Piedmont hitters: Yomar Navaro 1-1 2B.
Records: Mt. Olive (2-0); Paulino (0-1)
Next: Mt. Olive vs. Frederick, Md. (Today at 11); Paulino vs. Levittown, Pa. (Today at 8)
Rotterdam, N.Y. 7, Altoona, Pa. 4
Altoona 001 001 2- 4 5 1
Rotterdam 003 301 x- 7 9 4
Cole Gibson, Andrew Moyer (5th) and Ryan Shope. Ryan Lanaro, Chris Kordziel (6th) and Brandon Smith.
Top Altoona hitters: Cole Gibson 2-3 R; Keaton Nolan 1-3 2B, R. Top Rotterdam hitters: Ryan Starr 2-3 SB, 2 R; Jon Seiter 1-1 2B, R.
Records: Rotterdam (3-0); Altoona (1-2) Next: Rotterdam vs. N. Syracuse (Sun. at 7); Altoona vs. Piedmont (Sun. at 4)