CHILLICOTHE — For the second-straight season, the Valley Indians have punched their ticket into the Division IV, Region 15 tournament.
The defending Region 15 champions and top-seeded team in D-IV in the Southeast District defeated Fairfield 4-1 at VA Memorial Stadium in the Chillicothe #2 district final on Monday — to earn their chance at repeating as Region 15 champs.
It’s the third district title since 2018 for the Valley baseball program and yet another step in their quest to make it back to Akron.
“In the past there were dog piles out on the field because of excitement. The feeling in the dugout today was relief — they’ve had a lot of expectations over the last year and they’ve played a lot of good baseball,” Valley coach Nolan Crabtree said, afterwards.
Fairfield scored their only run of the game in their first trip to the plate.
After Jacob Morgan reached first base via fielder’s choice, three-consecutive Indian errors allowed Morgan to advance from first all the way home.
Valley conceded just three hits to Fairfield the rest of the contest, leaving the damage to a minimum.
“We were a little tight. Those guys on the left side of the infield, they’re hitting one and three in our lineup and are a huge part of our success,” Crabtree said. “It’s tough in a big game, you get the ball hit right at you to start the game. But that’s where it helps having an experienced pitcher like George. And to his credit they didn’t really hit the ball hard.”
Valley quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the second and never looked back.
A one-out single by junior Christopher Queen and a walk by junior Hunter Edwards set the stage for senior Landon Jones, who tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI double up the left field line.
In their next at-bat, sophomore Jace Copley drove in Edwards to give Valley a 2-1 lead with an RBI ground out.
In the third, the first three Indians batters reached. A lead-off single by freshman Jaekyn Ridout and back-to-back walks drawn by senior Chase Morrow and Tate Queen loaded the bases with nobody out.
Junior George Arnett drove in Ridout on an RBI sacrifice fly to put Valley in front 3-1. Morrow scored on a passed ball with two outs to give the Indians a 4-1 edge in what would remain the final score.
Valley drew four walks in the win, including the two that loaded the bases in the third.
“He’s had a really good year, a good pitcher. The scouting reports we saw was that he can get wild and misses up in the zone. We were really cognoscant of making him throw the ball in the zone and down,” Crabtree said. “Hunter worked a big walk after Chris hits a single, Landon lines the ball down the line for a double. After that it’s a sense of relief.”
Arnett earned the win in a complete game effort, allowing just four hits, no earned runs, and striking out five.
“Proud of our guys, they fought and perceirved. Our pitchers set the tone — Carter the other night and George tonight. Jace Copley behind the plate, does a great job and he’s such a glue guy for our team in everything we do,” Crabtree said.
Valley advances to the Region 15 tournament where they’ll face the winner of the Central #1 district in the semifinals on Thursday, June 2 at 5:00 p.m. at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
Fairfield 1 0 0 0 0 0 0— 1 4 0
Valley 0 2 2 0 0 0 X — 4 5 5
Dow Moon 2-4
Jacob Morgan 0-3, R
Hunter Burns 2-3
Jaekyn Ridout 1-3, R
Chase Morrow 1-2, BB, R
Tate Queen 0-2, BB
George Arnett 1-3, RBI
Christopher Queen 1-3, R
Hunter Edwards 0-1, BB, R, HBP
Landon Jones 1-2, RBI, BB
Jace Copley 0-3, RBI
Gabe Foutch (F) 6IP, 4H, 3ER, 4BB, 7K (L)
George Arnett (V) 7IP, 4H, 0ER, 0BB, 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