West End teams find success
The 14-year-old West End baseball team is trying to match the 13-year-old and 15-year-old teams from its league and return home with a state championship.
The 13-year-old West End team won the state title after an 8-0 win over Mifflin County on Wednesday. On the same night, the 15-year-old team won 4-0 over Broomall-Newtown.
The West Ends 14s are just two wins shy of adding another state title to the league. They will continue that chase today in Wrightstown when they meet Valley in a semifinal at 2:15 p.m.
Should West End win today, it would play the winner of the Tri-Township-Mifflin County game for the state championship at 5:30 tonight.
Two more wins will give the 14-year-old team a state championship and the league a bit of history. Mifflin County is the only other league to win three state titles in any year since Babe Ruth Baseball went to its current format in 1999. Mifflin County won its three titles in 2003.
West End shortstop Dawson Prough says his team will take a simple approach as it chases the league’s third state title in 2013.
“Work hard and play hard and hustle on the field,” Prough said. “Just be a team player.”
West End earned a chance at three state championships after winning all three age groups in District 8 play. It was the third consecutive year the league accomplished the feat.
The West End 14s won its district championship with the backing of a deep rotation.
“Larry VanStavoren pitched the seventh inning down there. Dawson (Prough) comes in and gives us five innings, Zach Person has two wins, pitching good,” West End 14-year-old manager Mark Rogers said. “Jessie Cornell comes in and throws three or four innings. We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Keep it simple. The harder we make it on ourselves the worse it gets.”
The competiton has been tough for West End as it has been in some close games and the competition is only going to get tougher. Rogers and his players know what to expect and know what they have to do.
“We’ve seen them all play down there, so we’re pretty well even if not a little bit better,” Rogers said. “Its just getting the bats going. I mean basic baseball, hit the ball and play the game.”
The tight games and last week’s heat wave has made the postseason experience one to remember for the West End 14s.
“Experience has been kind of harsh, we’ve played in 100 degree weather and it hasn’t been the most comfortable spot to play in but we’ve worked through it,” said Prough. “We’ve had very tough games we haven’t blown out really anyone much, its been really tight, close games but its been a really good expeience for us.”
The 13-year-old West End team also has had a good experience. It dominated in the state tournament, outscoring its opponents 66-14 and winning the state championship game 8-0 over Mifflin County. It now head to the Mid-Atlantic Regional in New York where it will play its opening game at 9 a.m. on Aug. 1, against the Eastern New York runner up.
West End manager George Lepley has managed many West End teams and has been to many regional tournament and he believes that this team has as good of a chance as any of them.
“I really think we will go to regionals and compete very favorably,” Lepley said. “I’ve been to probably 18 regional tournaments and I think four other ones with teams this age and I think this team has as much potential as any of the other ones that I’ve seen. It’s really deep in pitching, it’s really deep with hitting and our defense you can see is really starting to come around.”
The pitching, offense and defense all have been very strong throughout the state tournament. The offense has scored more than eight runs in five of the six games and the opponent has been held to one run or less in four of the six games.
Infielder Nolan Ott knows that the competition is going to be better in regionals.
“Its gonna be more, real baseball games, instead of just shutting out everybody, he said”
Shortstop Tanner Esposito expects more close games.
“Every game is going to be like the Broomall game when we won 3-1,” said Esposito. “Close, exciting games. A nerve-wracking game.”