LUCASVILLE — Contrary to Major League Baseball’s adaptation of a new extra inning rule, the rules for free baseball at the high school level remain the same.
By scoring four runs in the top of the 8th and holding host Valley scoreless in their final two innings at the plate, the Minford Falcons picked up a road win over the Indians and improved their standing in this year’s SOC II race.
Prior to Monday’s contests, each of the top-four in the SOC II race (Minford, Valley, Wheelersburg, and Waverly) had one loss in league play, meaning the 6-2 result favoring the Falcons again puts them in a tie for first place as we near the midway point of the season.
Despite totaling just four hits as a team, Minford (7-2, 6-1 SOC II) made the most of their late-game ABs and managed to scratch across four crucial runs after Valley tied things at 2-2 in the bottom of the 6th.
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis walked with the bases loaded, no outs in the top of the 8th to give Minford a 3-2 lead before junior Levi Coriell had a two RBI single that put the Falcons up by three with one out.
A balk by Valley relief pitcher Devin Wiley plated another Minford run, making it 6-2 Falcons with two outs. Wiley relieved Indians starter George Arnett who allowed three hits and four walks while striking out six in seven complete innings.
Minford coach Anthony Knittel said his message to his team as they entered their first extra inning contest of the year was to remain confident.
“There’s never a doubt. We always know we can win. We’ve got a saying that great teams win late, and we were able to do that,” Knittel said. “We liked that if we could get through the bottom of the seventh, we would have (Matthew) Risner and Grant Wheeler due up in the eighth. Able to put some pressure on the defense, start bunting and that got things rolling.”
Minford took a 2-1 lead in the second inning when Aodhan Queen had a two RBI single that scored Cole Borland and Branson Alley. A two-out double by Arnett in the first scored Valley senior Breckon Williams and gave the Indians the initial 1-0 edge.
Minford sophomore Noah Martin earned the win on the hill by pitching the compete game on 113 pitches and allowing seven hits, four walks, and two earned runs.
Martin also relieved Vogelsong-Lewis in Friday’s win over Wheelersburg in the seventh, making it safe to say the young pitcher is getting plenty of experience in big-game situations in the early part of the season.
“Noah’s a kid that’s going to pound the zone — extremely proud of him,” Knittel said. “He’s a great kid on and off the field, and most importantly, he’s got the mentality that no one’s better. As a good pitcher in a very competitive conference, you’ve got to have that mindset.”
Valley senior Austin McIntosh drove in the game-tying run in Arnett on an RBI single to center field in the bottom of the 6th — a hit in which Valley could have scored the go-ahead run on, but a play at the plate ruled go-ahead runner Blake Wood out.
Wood was at second when McIntosh lifted his single to Minford center fielder Vogelsong-Lewis, who stumbled a split-second before relaying in the ball from the outfield. After rounding third, Wood slowed his pace and allowed the Falcons to get the ball to catcher Matthew Risner before the Valley senior could cross home plate and give the Indians a lead.
Valley (5-4, 4-2 SOC II) left two runners on base to end the sixth and weren’t able to plate another run in their final two innings at the plate.
“We had bases loaded and got the hit we needed, just didn’t get a good read. The play at the plate we probably should have got in, but that happens,” Valley coach Nolan Crabtree said, after the game. “We had our opportunities after that — came back out and put up a zero and made some defensive mistakes that let them put up the winning runs in extra innings.”
“Elijah in center field got it in as quick as he could, Adam with the great twist at short,” Knittel said. “Knowing what you’re going to do with the baseball before it’s hit is huge.”
Six different Indians collected a hit and they drew four walks as a team. Crabtree said afterwards he felt that their pitching and defense did enough to get the win prior to extra innings, but felt they needed to do more on offense in future games.
“The earned runs in the second inning doubled his (Arnett) total on the year. He settled in and gave us a chance,” Crabtree said. “Offensively we’ve got to do better, got to get the big hit and execute. That one hurts, but like we told them, you have to turn the page and get ready for tomorrow.”
Minford will host Fairland on Thursday (4/15) in non-league play, while Valley continues a strong-stretch of its’ schedule by hosting Clay on Tuesday, travelling to Oak Hill on Wednesday, and hosting Waverly on Friday.
Minford: 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 — 6 4 0
Valley: 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 2 7 3
W: Martin (M), L: Arnett (V)
Noah Martin (M): 8IP, 7H, 2ER, 4BB, 4Ks
George Arnett (V): 7IP, 3H, 4ER, 4BB, 6Ks
Devin Wiley (V): 1 IP, 1H, 0ER, 2Ks
Grant Wheeler (M) 0-2, R, 2BB
Adam Crank (M) 1-4, R
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (M) 0-3, BB, R, RBI
Branson Alley (M) 0-3, BB, R
Levi Coriell (M) 1-4, 2RBI
Cole Borland (M) 1-3, R
Aodhan Queen (M) 1-3, 2RBI
Matthew Risner (M) 0-3, R
Breckon Williams (V) 1-2, R, 2BB
Hunter Edwards (V) 1-4
George Arnettt (V) 1-3, BB, R, RBI
Blake Wood (V) 0-3, BB
Chase Morrow (V) 2-4
Austin McIntosh (V) 1-4, RBI
Colt Buckle (V) 1-3
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved