April 23, 2014

Elyria
Sunny
51°F
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West headed to state

ELYRIA — When shortstop Jason Neuschaefer settled under Seth Harshberger’s seventh-inning pop-up and secured the final out, it set off a celebration on the Elyria West side.
After three years of playing second fiddle to Elyria East in the Little League senior division, West came away with a 10-6 victory over East  in the District 3 title game Sunday at West Park to earn a trip to the state tournament in Maumee.
West will open state tournament play Saturday.
“Every season we’ve tried to go to state and we finally made it,” said pitcher Dan Poskocil. “We finally made it. This is my happiest day ever.”
Poskocil had the most significant impact on the outcome. On the mound he was brilliant, especially in four of the six innings he pitched. He struck out eight of the first 10 hitters and had a perfect game until issuing a two-out walk to Jon Koepf in the fourth.
Kyle Hodgeman’s lead-off single in the sixth, a hard-hit ball that eluded shortstop Neuschaefer, ended the no-hit bid and, eventually, the shutout. East scored twice in the inning.
But Poskocil was too busy concentrating on his task at hand to think about a no-hitter.
“I didn’t even know about it until I got to the dugout and Jason Neuschaefer said he blew it for me,” Poskocil said. “I just wanted to get up (in the count) on the hitters. I knew I needed to get up.”
He needed only 34 pitches to get through the first three innings and 27 of them were strikes.
“I can’t say enough about him,” said West manager Steve Thompson. “He was around the plate and kept his pitch count down.”
 Little League senior rules limit a pitcher to 95 pitches, although the pitcher can exceed the limit if he started to pitch to a final hitter before reaching the limit. Poskocil threw 97 and left the mound after hitting Jameson Molnar leading off the bottom of the seventh.
Will Ross, a left-hander, came on in relief and struggled through a four-run inning, although he was hurt by two errors, but West still had a large cushion.
“I wanted to finish (the game) for myself,” Poskocil said. “But I had faith in Will and the entire team. I knew he could do it.”
“We got outplayed today,” said East manager Kurt Koepf. “We waited too long to get going. We weren’t patient at the plate like we should have been. We could have gotten deeper in the pitch count and we would’ve been better off. Poskocil pitched a great game.”
However, Poskocil was throwing nothing but strikes until a pair of two-out walks in the fourth. In the fifth the West right-hander retired the side on 13 pitches, all strikes. He finally weakened in the sixth, giving up a couple of runs, one unearned because of his own error.
By that time West had nine runs on the board. The winners had 12 hits off East pitchers Gus Long and Seth Harshberger, led by Shawn Walton who was 4-for-4, including a double, with three runs batted in and three runs scored. First baseman Nolan Neuschaefer doubled and singled twice, scored a run and knocked in another.
But the big blow came off the bat of catcher D.J. Halauer in the third. Eddie Sizemore led off the inning with an infield hit and then Halauer slammed Long’s 0-1 pitch over the center field fence for a two-run homer, a blast that led to a five-run inning and a 7-0 lead. Walton doubled in two more in the inning.
“That home run really got us going,” Poskocil said. “They couldn’t take us down.”
“I felt like it (the hit) did too,” said Thompson.
West scored twice more in the sixth and choked off an East rally in the bottom of the inning when Poskocil started a 1-2-3 double play.
“Either one of us could’ve have won it,” said Thompson. “These are quality teams.”
“West has a good team,” Koepf said. “I hope they do well at state. We wanted to go to the next level. We’re disappointed, obviously. But today we ran into a tough team.”

Contact Roger Negin at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

West                    East
    AB    R    H    BI        AB    R    H    BI
NNeuschfer    4    1    3    1    Long    2    1    0    0
Poskocil    4    0    0    1    Wiehe    4    2    0    0
Sizemore    4    1    1    0    Koepf    3    1    1    1
Halauer    5    2    2    2    Drews    3    0    1    2
JNeuschfer    4    1    1    0    Harshberger    3    0    0    1
Grunda    2    2    1    1    White    3    0    0    0
Littlejohn    3    0    0    0    Molnar    2    1    0    0
Ross    0    0    0    0    Zunis    1    1    0    0
Naylor    0    0    0    0    Toney    2    0    0    0
Beckwith    3    0    0    0    Shope    1    0    1    0
Kaywell    0    0    0    0    Taft    0    0    0    0
Walton    4    3    4    3    Hodgeman    3    0    1    0
                               
Totals    33    10    12    8    Totals    27    6    4    4
West    025    002    1    —    10    12    3
East    000    0    02    4    —    6    4    3
2B – N., Neueschaefer, Walton; HR – Halauer; S – Littlejohn;  SF – Poskocil; SB – N. Neuschaefer 2, Halauer, J. Neuschaefer, Grunda, Koepf; LOB – East 6, West 10;  DP– West.
    IP    R    ER    H    BB    SO
West
Poskocil (W)    6    3    1    2    4    9
Ross     1    3    0    2    1    0
East
Long (L)      2    5    5    5    1    1
Harshberger     5    5    5    4    7    3   
HBP, by – Long 2 (N. Neuschaefer, Grunda); Poskocil (Molnar); WP – Ross, Harshberger.