MINFORD — Minford High School baseball coach Anthony Knittel frequently discusses the importance of “winning games late”.
Against the visiting Valley Indians on Monday, and for the second time this season in fact, the Falcons defeated the Indians in extras.
That’s because, as Aodhan Queen came up with a full-count and game-winning single in the eighth inning, Minford managed a 2-1 Southern Ohio Conference Division II victory over Valley —clinching at least a share of the SOC II title for the young Falcons in the process.
The win raised Minford’s record to an impressive 18-2, and to 14-1 in the league —where only Wheelersburg could clinch a share with the Falcons.
However, if Minford wins on Friday with visiting Northwest, then the Falcons are outright champions again —having done the same exact thing only three years ago.
Two years back, they shared with Wheelersburg the coveted SOC II baseball title —as the 2020 season was cancelled by the Ohio High School Athletic Association due to the coronavirus threat.
So this makes three consecutive SOC II championships for the Falcons, which has so far swept all of their division opposition —sans South Webster with their only league defeat.
Against Valley, which dipped to 11-8 and 8-6 in the league, the Falcons found a run in the third frame —as Valley made Minford’s lead short-lived with a run of its own in the fourth.
Of Minford’s seven hits, the hero Queen collected two of them —as Grant Wheeler, Adam Crank, Levi Coriell, Branson Alley and Mason Book bagged one apiece, as Crank drove in the third-inning run.
Wheeler and Alley scored Minford’s markers, as Wheeler was also hit by a pitch twice and stole a pair of bases.
In a classic pitcher’s duel between youngsters George Arnett of Valley and Noah Martin of Minford, both hurlers left five men on base in pitching complete-game gems.
Martin, in earning the win, allowed only an earned run on three Indian hits —and while walking four he struck out five and faced 30 total batters.
Arnett took the hard-luck pitching loss, scattering seven hits and three walks while giving up only one earned run.
He threw 80 pitches compared to 114 for Martin, and faced only one more Falcon than what Martin did in seeing the Indians.
At the plate himself, Arnett was twice hit by a pitch and walked —and scored the Indians’ only run for the 1-1 fourth-inning tie.
Chase Morrow managed two of the Indians’ three hits with Carter Nickel notching the other —as Morrow doubled in Arnett for Valley’s only point.
Besides Arnett twice, Breckon Williams and Jace Copley each drew Martin walks.
Minford defeated Valley in the opening meeting between the two in eight innings, 6-2.
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