LUCASVILLE — Conference play came to an end for the Portsmouth West Senators and the Lucasville Valley Indians on Friday evening in Lucasville, Ohio, as the Indians played host to the Senators. Both teams were looking for positive momentum with tournament play quickly approaching.
It would be the Indians getting a boost of momentum, as they held on to defeat the Senators 5-4, after the winning run, Blake Howard, was walked home to score.
“It was a good game,” Portsmouth West baseball coach Chris Rapp said. “We’re at the point of the year, I say we’re playing with freshmen, three freshmen and two sophomores, but we’re at a time in the year where they’re no longer freshmen and sophomores. They’ve had just about a year’s experience, of baseball experience at this point, and I told them today to play with their guts, and they gutted it out. We didn’t end up on the good side of the scoreboard, but I’m very happy with them.”
“It was a good comeback win for us,” Lucasville Valley baseball coach Nolan Crabtree said.
Both coaches were proud of their respective team’s performance on Friday evening. Rapp was exceptionally proud of the heart and fight his players showed in a tight game, while Crabtree was happy to see his team not give up after blowing a lead late in the game.
Gavin Yazell took the mound for the Indians and had a tough start to the game, but then was able to find a rhythm to carry him and the Indians through nearly the entire game. After West scored two quick runs in the first, Yazell held them scoreless until the sixth inning.
“He had a really nice start,” Crabtree said. “He wore out a little bit there in the sixth inning. He was really gutty.”
Cody Finley had a good outing for West, as he went through six innings of work. He allowed 11 hits in the start, and four runs, all earned. He showed good placement of his pitches as well, walking only one batter, and getting three Indians to strike out.
After six complete innings, the Indians and Senators were tied, 4-4. West threatened to take the lead in the top of the seventh inning. Finley drew a walk to start off the inning, and then the Senators played perfect small-ball to get Finley to third base, after two sacrifices.
L.T. Maynard came to the plate with two outs and Finley on third. He hit a grounder that just passed the pitcher, towards the second baseman. Maynard tried to beat out the throw to first, as Finley was rushing home, but was unable to reach first before the ball.
With the game still tied, 4-4, heading into the bottom of the seventh, Blake Howard smashed a double for Valley off the first pitch he saw.
“That was a great start,” Crabtree said. “I told Blake Howard we needed a base-runner, and if you are going to turn loose on the first pitch, it’s got to be something you can drive, and you better not miss it. He didn’t miss, and got to second.”
After the double, West intentionally walked the next two batters, Eli Harr and Dakota Bowling.
With the bases loaded and no outs, the Senators needed an out, and got it with a strikeout.
Still needing two outs, West was battling to get out of the inning. Kenny Williams came to the plate for Valley with the bases loaded. The Indians only needed one run to end the game.
Williams saw the first three pitches called balls, and then the fourth came through as a strike. Crabtree said he game Williams the take sign, to take the next pitch, as he noticed the West pitcher was struggling with location.
The next pitch came through on the inside, and was called a ball by the home plate umpire, which walked in Howard to give the Indians a 5-4 win.
“Kenny had a great at-bat with the bases loaded,” Crabtree said.
The game had a tournament-style feel, as it progressed.
“I told one of my coaches in the sixth inning, ‘this is tournament atmosphere baseball,’” Rapp said. “This is good going into tournament play, becuase you’re one-and-done in tournament. If you win, you advance, and this was a good tournament atmosphere.”
“I’m very happy with them. That’s the way you want to play baseball,” Rapp said. “They left it all on the field.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.