Szczepanski said he wasn’t nervous before pitching the biggest game of his life.
“I treat every game like another game,” he said. “I just relax and take deep breaths.”
Essexville scored in the fourth inning. After a one-out walk and a wild pitch, Alex Czyzewski doubled to deep center field.
Hamilton threatened in the fifth with two on and two outs, but Szczepanski escaped the jam with his eighth strikeout.
West Side threatened again in the sixth, putting the winning run on base with one out. After Landyn Vidourek reached on an error, Szczepanski left after reaching his pitch limit. Stephens singled off Blaise Millar to move the tying run into scoring position, but a double play ended the threat, the game and West Side’s summer.
“I thought we would pull it off there in the last inning,” West Side coach Tim Nichting said. “Credit to their kid, the way he pitched, but I thought it was set up there for us to do what we needed to do.”
Stephens labored in the middle innings as his pitch count quickly rose. Meanwhile, Szczepanski was able to keep his pitch count down for much of the game. Nichting said he told his team to “look for the fastball.”
“He threw strikes. He pitched well,” Nichting said of Szczepanski. “His offspeed, everything was on for him.”
Essexville moves on to face Kenosha American (Wis.) on Friday at 5 p.m.
“We made a long run,” Nichting said. “I’m very proud of all my kids. We battled to the end and had them on the ropes there at the end. We needed a little luck.”
Hamilton West Side 000-000—0-2-1
WP — Tommy Szczepanski; LP — Micaden Stephens; S — Blaise Millar