LUCASVILLE — With Minford and Valley’s recent history on the diamond, it’s no surprise their first meeting of the 2022 season wasn’t decided in seven innings.
The Indians and the Falcons — both coming off deep postseason runs in the Division IV and III tournaments, respectively — required extra innings to decide a winner for the third-straight meeting.
Both contests last year — a 6-2 Minford win on April 12 and a 2-1 Minford win on May 3 — were completed in the eighth inning.
This iteration of the Lucasville-Minford Road Rivalry required nine innings — as Indians junior Chris Queen connected on a one-out, two-RBI walk-off double to center field to give Valley (2-0) a dramatic 6-5 win in the bottom of the ninth.
Queen delivered the final four Valley runs in their first win over the Falcons since the 2017 season, including his ninth-inning walkoff and a fifth-inning single that plated a pair of Indian runs.
Freshman Jaekyn Ridout singled to lead off the Indians’ ninth-inning rally, serving as the game-tying run.
Ridout advanced from first-to-third on a pickoff attempt misthrow.
Senior Chase Morrow reached first with one out on a bunt attempt that held Ridout at third, and was scored as a fielder’s choice.
Freshman Tate Queen drew a walk, pushing Morrow into scoring position as the eventual game-winning run — when Chris Queen delivered the walkoff blow.
“Our kids don’t give up, and neither did theirs. What a game. Both teams trailing and both teams fighting back — the last few times we’ve faced them its been games exactly like that,” Valley coach Nolan Crabtree said, after the game. “They made it to the regional finals last year with almost their whole team coming back — it’s a good league, they’re the defending champ and you’re not going to win the league without knocking them off. Our kids tonight, they didn’t give up. Kept fighting and did a great job for us.”
Minford (0-1) scored first in extras to put the pressure on Valley.
A two-out double by sophomore Mason Book followed by another two-out double by junior Cole Borland in the top of the ninth, giving the Falcons their first lead since the top of the 5th.
The Falcons delivered 17 hits as a team, including four by sophomore Carson Cronin and three by junior Adam Crank.
Opportunities to score additional runs in the first seven innings weren’t capitalized upon, however, Minford coach Anthony Knittel said afterwards.
“We just didn’t execute tonight. We had probably seven or eight runners in scoring position that we couldn’t get home, baserunning mistakes that cost us runs. And that’s not taking anything away from them — they’re a good ballclub,” Knittel said. “On our end, just didn’t play the game the way it needed to be played. We’ll get back into practice and work on the things we struggled with tonight and be back against Waverly on Friday — lot of ball left.”
Valley got on the scoreboard first in Wednesday’s game — when junior Colt Buckle singled to score sophomore Jace Copley, who drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the second.
Minford sophomore Grant Wheeler tied the game in the top of the third with a leadoff solo home run to left field.
It’s the first out-of-the-park home run hit at Valley’s field in Crabtree’s tenure as head coach — which began in the 2016 season, he later confirmed.
Valley junior George Arnett earned the win on the mound for the Indians, tossing all nine innings, issuing one walk and striking out five on 112 pitches.
Minford junior Noah Martin made his return to mound following a season-ending injury last spring.
Despite being credited with the loss, Martin pitched a strong eight and one-third innings — allowing three earned runs and eight hits in his first game back.
“Noah’s a competitor. All glory to God for him being able to bounce back within a year,” Knittel said. “Was great seeing him on the mound. Started to get up in pitch count and before I could even get out on the field, he wanted to finish it. He’s a bulldog, great kid, couldn’t be more proud of him.”
With the win, Valley gains a very early leg-up over Minford in the SOC II race.
The pair will square off again at Minford on Wednesday, April 20 — but will play their first round of league games prior to then.
The Falcons host Waverly in the SOC II on Friday before a doubleheader with Jackson on Saturday, while Valley travels to South Webster on Friday in SOC II play.
“I felt in my heart these first few weeks we were vulnerable. It’s early, not in the groove of the season, and got a late start because of basketball. Some of that reared it’s head, but you could see our confidence growing with their fight. Just proud of our kids,” Crabtree said.
Minford 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 — 5 17 2
Valley 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 — 6 9 1
Grant Wheeler 2-4, R, RBI, BB
Adam Crank 3-5, R
Aodhan Queen 1-5, RBI
Rhyan Queen 0-3
Branson Alley 1-1, RBI
Mason Book 2-5, R
Cole Borland 1-4, R, RBI
Jacob Lewis 2-4
Carson Cronin 4-4
JD Matiz 1-4, R, RBI
George Arnett 0-5, R
Chase Morrow 1-5, 2R, RBI
Tate Queen 1-3, 2BB
Chris Queen 2-4, 4RBI
Landon Jones 1-4
Jace Copley 0-3, R, BB
Hunter Edwards 1-2, BB
Colt Buckle 1-4, RBI
Jaekyn Ridout 2-4, 2R
Noah Martin (M) 8.1 IP, 8H, 3ER, 6BB, 5K (L)
Levi Coriell (M) 0IP, 1H
George Arnett (V) 9IP, 17H, 5ER, BB, 5K (W)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved