West Point cruises past Deer Lakes to win District 26 Little League crown
West Point “doubled” down Wednesday night to win the District 26 Little League championship in the 9/10 division.
The team smacked five doubles en route to a 15-5 victory over Deer Lakes at Apollo Lions Club Field.
The game was halted after four innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
West Point will play in the Section II state tournament starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at West Kittanning’s Montebell Field against the District 4 champion.
The road to this year’s crown was a bumpy one. West Point lost to Deer Lakes earlier in the round-robin tournament, 7-4, and lost to Armstrong by 10 runs in the all-star opener.
“About a week-and-a-half ago was when it looked like things were really starting to click,” West Point manager Mike Semelka said. “That’s when it felt like a team, and we were in sync and making the plays. During that time, our at- bats got a lot better, too.”
After the teams exchanged runs in the first inning, West Point sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the second inning and scored five runs.
West Point broke the game open in the third when pinch hitter Noah Noel slammed a bases-clearing double to score three runs and put his team in front 10-1.
“They had an outstanding approach at the plate tonight,” Deer Lakes manager Mike Danka said.
West Point scored, seemingly, in every way possible.
Shortstop Tommie Rennie stole home twice to account for two of his three runs scored. Rennie stole on exchanges from the catcher to the pitcher.
“He’s smart but also his dad over there at third base coached him up and was telling him to seize the opportunity,” Semelka said. “That’s what we’ve been telling the kids, when the opportunity comes to jump on it.”
Deer Lakes used basic baseball in the third and fourth innings, bringing home runners from third on groundouts twice each inning, but it wasn’t enough to counter the West Point barrage.
“It was a great experience for our kids; I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Danka said. “They did everything we asked the entire tournament, like beating Freeport, 2-1, with a packed house at our place. We really appreciated the community support.”
Brody Chismar had doubles in his first two at-bats Wednesday, and Rennie and Dom Scarton had the other West Point two-base hits.
Winning pitcher Luke Semelka drew four walks and scored three times.
Deer Lakes shortstop Ben Shurina doubled and drove in two runs while losing pitcher Nolan Danka and Brady Plummer each singled and scored.
The section tournament at West Kittanning will be a four-team, double-elimination tournament starting Tuesday.
The winner will advance to the state tournament starting July 24 in Wellsboro.
George Guido is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.