After a sloppy start to its day, the West Deptford Senior League All-Star team found itself with its back against the wall Monday night in an Eastern Regional tournament elimination game.
Fortunately for West Deptford, it seems whenever ace pitcher Ty Castellano finds himself in a pressure situation, he performs his best.
Castellano pitched 6-1/3 standout innings, escaping jams in the fifth and six innings, and West Deptford got a two-run hit from Ed Essig to stave off elimination with a 3-2 win over Stony Point, NY, at .
West Deptford—which lost 20-10 to Massachusetts earlier Monday—is back in action today at 12:30 p.m. against Naamans, DE, which beat South Vineland in the last game of the day Monday.
“I think (Castellano) has a lot of self-confidence, and you have to have self-confidence to be a pitcher,” West Deptford manager Ed Essig said. “I don’t know if he’s shakable, but he seems unshakable.”
After getting out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth to preserve a 3-1 lead, Castellano did one better in the sixth. Kevin Hylas reached on an error and found himself on third base with no outs thanks to a steal. Castellano struck out the next batter, then after a walk, struck out the next two to end the frame.
Castellano—never one to talk up his own performance—couldn’t explain why he has developed a reputation of being at his best in pressure situations.
“I don’t know, I just reared back and threw the ball,” said Castellano. “I guess luck was on my side.”
West Deptford took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when Tyler Garrison singled home Dave Strout. The one run seemed like it might have been enough, as Castellano gave up just two hits in the first inning. The lead blossomed to 3-0 in the fifth, when Essig delivered a two-out single that plated Walker Luck and Castellano.
The lead was 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, when Castellano had to leave with one out after reaching his pitch limit. Ian MacQueen entered with Brandon Respress on third and walked the first batter he faced.
However, ball four rolled past the catcher and Respress inexplicably broke for home in a two-run game. Josh Ziegler retrieved the ball and tossed to MacQueen, who rushed in to cover the plate, in time to nail Respress for the second out.
The gamble proved even more costly when Stony Point scored a run later in the inning, only to fall one run short when Chris VanSkyock grounded out to second to end the game.
West Deptford’s performance was nearly a 180 from earlier in the day, when it was error-prone in a lopsided loss. The team kept its season alive by getting over the loss quickly.
“We talked about playing better baseball tonight, being mentally tougher and not making mental mistakes,” Essig said. “We were able to do that for the most part. We had a couple of hiccups, but that’s Little League.”
“We knew we just had to make less errors and clean up our game a little bit,” Garrison added.
Essig said the coaching staff will see how today’s game goes in the early innings and decide then whether to pitch on a rotation to keep multiple pitchers available or just ride one pitcher as long as they can. If West Deptford wins the afternoon game, it will be back in action at 7:30 p.m., again facing elimination.
Regardless of how much further West Deptford is able to go, the team has proved it can hang with the best teams in the East Coast.
“It means a lot,” Garrison said. “Some people may think we don’t belong here because we only have to win our district, but this kind of shows that we belong.”