HAGERSTOWN — The Maryland District 1 10-11 tournament was a whirlwind to the very end for West End.
Only a tornado could match the way West End notched its three-game sweep in the four-team tournament to win the title.
And it almost got that, too.
West End scored four runs in the first and then settled in behind the pitching of Will Grove to knock off Clear Spring 8-2 on Friday in a game that was shortened to 5 2/3 innings because of a tornado warning that was issued for Washington County.
West End had already done all the damage it needed to claim the district championship banner and the trip to the state tournament that went with it. The celebration was short and windswept, but meaningful.
“We haven’t done this for awhile,” said West End manager Mark Barton. “This was a team effort. We brought it back to West End.”
West End used home runs by Joseph Ringus and Xavier Dominguez to establish the early lead, and turned it over to Grove.
Grove pitched 5 2/3 innings before reaching the pitch limit. He allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out eight.
“Will did an excellent job,” Barton said. “He pitched the first game for us and we saved him to come back in this one and he did an excellent job.”
Grove left the game with runners at second and third with one out in the sixth. Ringus came on and allowed an RBI single to Dylan McGill right before umpires halted the game after a lightning strike.
The teams left the field for 45 minutes with the plan to bring them back to finish the game. But when the tornado warning was announced, game administrator Larry Hammond called the game for safety’s sake and awarded the victory to West End.
West End will play in the state tournament beginning July 14 at 1 p.m. in Cambridge.
West End, playing as the visitors at home, jumped on Clear Spring pitcher Dylan Staley for four runs in the first to set the tone of the game.
Chase McCoy led off with a walk and stole second before Roahn Bromfield singled to right center. Bromfield advanced on a groundout and scored on a single by Dominguez before Ringus hit a two-run homer to center for the 4-0 lead.
“We went out and advanced runners early by playing small ball,” Barton said. “It worked for us.”
Dominguez hit a one-out homer to left in the third to give West End a 5-0 lead.
Clear Spring got on the board in the bottom of the third when Alex Kehr hit a one-out single to center before taking second on an errant pickoff throw. After advancing on a groundout, Kehr scored on Garret Hose’s single to cut the deficit to 5-1.
West End made it 6-1 in the fourth when Bransyn Dillinger singled and eventually scored on a McCoy double.
It went to 7-1 in the fifth when Grove reached on an error before Jeremy Peralta took over as a pinch runner. Peralta stole second, took third on Dominguez’s grounder to third and scored on an errant throw to third.
Stevie Billman hit a sacrifice fly to score West End’s final run in the sixth.
Hose and Andrew Pottorff had two hits each for Clear Spring.
Dominguez had two hits and two RBIs for West End.
After the victory, West End held their banner for quick pictures and took it on the traditional run around the field. Then it was time to scurry to safety.
“Are we upset with the way it ended? Nope,” Barton said. “We played hard the whole tournament and we were ready to go out and play hard for the last out to win. This was a team effort.”