MINFORD — It was a Tuesday tuneup for two teams in the baseball regional semifinals, but it was the host Falcons which indeed caught 22.
As in a 22-game win streak.
That’s because Minford moved its amazing winning streak to 22 consecutive, as the Falcons scored at least two runs in every inning sans the fifth —and mercy-ruled the visiting Valley Indians 14-4 in six innings in an added regular-season non-league encounter.
Minford muscled three runs in the opening inning, then erupted for five more markers in the second stanza to lead 8-0.
After an Indians’ earned run in the third frame, Minford —with two counters apiece in the third and fourth —made it 12-1.
Valley got three runs back in the fifth for its 12-4 deficit, but the Falcons finished officially their regular season in walk-off run-rule fashion —scoring two more runs in the sixth.
With the win, Minford made it a perfect 3-for-3 over the Indians this season, as the Falcons completed the season sweep of Valley by winning —in eight innings each time in fact — their two Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilts.
The second one was a 2-1 Falcon walk-off win —one of Minford’s major triumphs en route to its outright SOC II championship.
The Falcons raised their record to a stellar 24-2-1, as the lone tie was a 4-4 non-league game against Jackson which was suspended due to darkness.
Valley, which was looking to fill its schedule with one final regular-season encounter after its Division IV district championship win on May 24, dipped to 18-12 — but avoided a hefty 10-day layoff by picking up the Falcons in between.
Both Valley in Division IV and Minford in Division III were the top-seeded squads throughout their entire Southeast District tournaments —as Minford avoided a full one-week layoff before Thursday’s regional semifinals against Wheelersburg.
The Indians, on the other hand, battle Paint Valley in their “Sweet 16” affair.
In not showing their hands but more or less just getting a game in to prevent rust, the Falcons’ four pitchers outdid the Indians’ three.
Cole Borland, the Falcons’ starting hurler, pitched the first three innings en route to the win —as he gave up three of the Indians’ seven hits and two of the Falcons’ four free passes issued with walks.
Levi Coriell, Adam Crank and Matthew Risner registered an inning of mound action as well.
Minford outhit Valley by a count of 13-7, and made one fewer error than did the Indians.
Coriell, Crank, Risner, Grant Wheeler, Aodhan Queen and Mason Book bagged two hits apiece, as Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis landed a first-inning RBI-double to get Minford on the board.
Borland scored four runs as Book had three, as Crank, Queen and Risner recorded two runs each.
Wheeler and Coriell led in runs batted in with three apiece, as Book, Queen and Vogelsong-Lewis —who scored the other Red run —each had a pair.
Risner and Book both doubled twice — as Crank, Wheeler, Queen and Vogelsong-Lewis plated one two-bagger apiece.
In the five-run second, Coriell and Queen collected singles, Crank and Risner racked up doubles, and Wheeler chipped in a sacrifice fly.
Breckon Williams and Blake Wood, both seniors, had two hits apiece for Valley — as George Arnett added a two-run double.
Hunter Edwards and Christopher Queen both singled once, as Williams and Edwards added one RBI.
Four separate Indians scored their four runs and four separate Indians all drew one walk.
Minford will face Wheelersburg for the third and final time this season on Thursday in the Division III regional semifinals —with first pitch set for 1:30 p.m. at Chillicothe’s VA Memorial Stadium.
Valley plays Paint Valley in its regional semifinal at Lancaster’s Beavers Field —for another Thursday matinee and a 2 p.m. first pitch.
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