Monday, July 2, 2012
By KEN MORGAN
of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
WALLA WALLA - One state ticket was punched here in second-day action at the District 5 Little League baseball tournament.
In 10-11 All-Star action, Walla Walla Pacific hung on to oust Walla Walla Valley 11-8. Pacific will enter state play at Mill Creek on July 14.
The 11-12 All-Stars got their tournament off to a belated start, thanks to Saturday's rain, and Valley won a slugfest 12-9 over Pacific.
In 9-10 action, Pacific won its second straight as it squeaked out a 3-1 decision over Asotin County. Pacific plays Tuesday for a state ticket.
Today at the Pacific complex, Asotin County faces Valley in 11-12 winner's bracket play at 8 p.m. At 6 p.m., in 9-10 play, Valley squares off with Asotin County in an elimination battle.
10-11 All-Stars: Pacific 11, Valley 8
Pacific scored three times in the first on only one hit, an RBI single by Luke Jordan, and it looked like a re-run of Saturday's 11-2 Pacific win over Valley. Valley had different ideas and after Adam Justice drove in a Pacific run in the third, Valley answered.
Aidan Kellogg and Brian Warinner sandwiched singles around a walk to Seth Ahrens to load the bases for Valley with no outs. Keldan Swant, and Taylor Mastin drew bases loaded walks, and Finn Michener was hit by a pitch to force in another run. Valley had the lead whittled to 4-3.
"You've got to love the heart and effort," Valley manager John Warinner said. "We talked about coming back after the first day loss, and if we were going to get down again, we had to be tough. We had to just keep coming. I couldn't be prouder of the guys for battling through."
The Pacific bats went to work. Jordan legged out a one-out infield hit, his second of three hits on the day, and Kyren Morris drilled a single. With two on, Austin Olson drove a line drive over the right field fence and Pacific had breathing room at 7-3.
"All through the line up, we hit the ball hard," Pacific manager Nathan Ferraro said. "We were disciplined and took advantage of the pitches they gave us. We are mentally tough. Three times it looked like Valley was going to creep back. We would make a couple of good plays, get out of the inning, and come back and score some runs and get another cushion."
After Taylor Hamada's two-run home run and Reagan Bond's two-run single, Pacific stretched the lead to 11-3 with Valley batting in the fifth.
Owen Peterson blasted a long fly over the center field fence for a two-run homer and Valley moved within 11-5.
Valley got singles from Warinner and Javon Handcox to open Valley's last shot. Swant left the yard, and Valley trailed 11-8 with no outs. Pacific was not to be denied. Morris, Pacific's third pitcher, walked Kyler Tiner, but struck out the next three and Pacific was headed to state.
"Our kids got the outs when they needed them," Ferraro said. "You've got to hand it to Valley, they hit two bombs, but our kids never gave up."
Valley finished with eight hits, but came up just short.
"We played all six," manager Warinner said. "Pacific have some fantastic players. They're obviously doing something right, but our group is one of the most enjoyable groups I've been associated with. We got some thrills out of it (the tourney) and had a good time and that's what it's all about."
11-12 All-Stars: Valley 12, Pacific 9
Valley opened with pre-fourth of July fireworks, but Pacific had some bombs of its own, and Valley was forced to respond with more of the same as Valley held on for a 12-9 win.
Carter Davis ripped the second pitch of the game out of the yard and Valley led 1-0. Parker Likes drove in two Valley runs with a second-inning double and Connor Lemma followed Likes with a two-run dinger, and Valley led 7-0 after sending nine hitters to the plate in a six-run second.
"When you play Pacific, you know an early lead doesn't mean much," Valley manager Sam Worth said. "Sure enough, (today) it didn't as they roared back to take the lead."
Pacific got two back in the home second on RBI singles by Ben Ortiz and Levi Haen, and took the lead with six in the fourth. Mason Knowles knocked in one with a single, Connor Hoeft followed with a two-run base hit, and Ortiz lifted a three-run bomb to give Pacific a 9-7 lead.
Valley's turn. Davis reached on an error, Likes singled, and Lemma drew a walk which brought Turner Edwards to the plate with the bases juiced. Edwards shot a line drive long over the right field fence for a grand slam and a 11-9 Valley lead after four.
"We have a very loose bunch of guys," Worth said. "You worry as a coach that when the big lead goes away, they (the players) just mentally go away with it. We didn't. We hit the ball with authority."
Dalton James added the Valley exclamation point with a solo shot in the fifth.
On the hill, Davis stopped the Pacific attack when he came on in relief in the fourth to stop the Pacific six-run uprising. Davis worked a scoreless fifth and gave way to Silas Shumate in the sixth with one out. Shumate got a strike out and a fly out to send Pacific to a Tuesday elimination game.
Valley moves on to face Asotin County today.
"Pitching rules are a hard part of Little League to manage," Worth said of his using four pitchers. "We were trying to and should be OK. We burned two in the process of winning. We'll see how it works."
9-10 All-Stars: Pacific 3, Asotin County 1
Asotin County outhit Pacific, four hits to two, but Pacific got just enough to pull out a 3-1 win.
"Their pitcher (Noah Renzelman) was outstanding, but he was a little nervous at first," Pacific manager Steve Barker said. "That's where we got into his head a little."
Asotin's Kasch Auer walked to open the game and with the aid of a Pacific error and two erratic pitches, came around to score for a 1-0 Asotin lead.
Hunter Polley and Matt McKenzie were both hit by pitches with one out in the Pacific first. An error, a wild pitch, and Dylan Ashbeck's ground out got Polley and McKenzie home as Pacific grabbed a 2-1 lead.
"He (Renzelman) tied us up," Barker said. "I was hoping to tack on another run or two, but we couldn't get base runners."
Pacific's other score came after Anthony Senne worked a lead off walk to open the Pacific third. A wild pitch and Polley's sac bunt moved Senne to third and he scored when McKenzie's grounder was misplayed.
On defense, Senne pitched the first four innings and allowed only one run and two hits as he left with a 3-1 lead.
"He (did) a great job," Barker said. "We didn't hit the ball like I had hoped, but it was enough to get the win."
Polley, at third base, made a diving catch of a foul pop up, gobbled up a shot for the third out in the fifth, and got a force out to end Asotin's bases loaded threat in the sixth.
"He (Polley) was outstanding today," Barker said. "He had one get through his legs, but out motto is to come back on the next one. He did as he made plays."
Pacific needs a win Tuesday or Thursday to earn a state ticker.
10-11 All-Stars Pacific 11, Valley 8
Pacific 301 340 - 11 12 2
Valley 003 023 - 8 8 4
Hamada, Bond (4), Morris (6) and Olson; Swant, Mastin (3), Ahrens (5), Tiner (6) and Ahrens, Swant (4).
HR - WWP: Olson, Hamada; WWV: Peterson, Swant.
Hits - WWP: Jordan 3, Swanson, Treadway, Justice 2, Morris 2, Olson, Hamada, Bond; WWV: Peterson 2, Kellogg, Warinner 2, Rose, Handcox, Swant.
11-12 All-Stars Valley 12, Pacific 9
Pacific 003 600 - 9 7 3
Valley 160 41X - 12 9 4
Baumgart, Hoeft (2) and Ortiz; Likes, Edwards (3), Davis (4), Shumate (6) and Lemma.
HR - WWP: Ortiz; WWV: Davis, Lemma, Edwards, James.
Hits - WWP: Ortiz 2, Haen 2, Knowles, Hoeft, Oliver; WWV: Davis, Likes 2, Lemma, Worden, Shumate, Edwards, James 2.
9-10 All-Stars: Pacific 3, Asotin Co. 1
Asotin Co. 100 000 - 1 4 2
Pacific 201 00X - 3 2 2
Renzelman, Boyea (5) and Boyea, Hurlbert (4); Senne, Saltmarsh (5) and McKenzie.
HR - none.
Hits - Asotin: Auer, Hurlbert 2, Hurst; WWP: Serrano, McKenzie.