LUCASVILLE — The Valley Indians ended Wednesday evening with a lot of momentum after coming up with a big win in the OHSAA Division IV Sectional Semifinal round. The Indians were one with their bats as they battled the Eastern Brown Warriors.
Valley jumped up to a 3-0 lead after the first inning and rode the momentum to a 13-3, mercy-rule, win over Eastern Brown in five innings.
“Gavin Yazell threw a really solid game for us,” Valley baseball coach Nolan Crabtree said. “We kind of had him on a pitch count. He’s had a little bit of a sore shoulder as of late.”
Valley started off great, which was one of the reasons the Indians were able to dominate the game, according to Crabtree.
“We just got off to a great start,” Crabtree said. “Gavin kept guys off base and we made some plays. We swung the bats well and just really stayed on them.”
Crabtree and the Indians had not seen Eastern Brown yet this season. Since he didn’t have any first-hand knowledge of the team, Crabtree went out and contacted a few area coaches with some knowledge of the Warriors.
“I made a few calls to a few coaches that they had played,” Crabtree said. “I just got some general information on them. It also helped that we matched up really well with them.”
The Indians were able to add pressure to the Warriors early in the game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. That pressure continued to mount on Eastern Brown, as Valley continued to pile on the runs throughout the game.
After a three-run first inning, Valley added a run in the second and then three in the third inning. Eastern Brown would find no refuge from the Valley bats, as the Indians scored another pair of runs in the fourth. In what would be the final inning of the game, Valley poured on another four runs in the fifth, ending Eastern Brown’s season with a 13-3 mercy-rule victory.
Yazell got the win for the Indians on Wednesday, pitching three and two-thirds innings against the Warriors allowing one run, which was earned, off three hits. He also rang up four Eastern Brown batters with strikeouts.
“He gave us what we needed today,” Crabtree said. “He pitched really well.”
Bryan Rolfe came in to relieve Yazell. Rolfe had one and one-third innings of work before the game was ended due to the mercy rule. He allowed two runs off three hits, while striking out one of the Warriors.
Drew Wolford and Kenny Williams each had three hits against Eastern Brown.
Wolford went 3-for-4 at the plate, hitting singles in the first, second and fourth innings. He also reached safely due to an error in the fifth. Wolford scored twice in the game.
Williams was 3-for-4 from the plate as well. He had singles in the third, fourth and fifth innings, while being walked in the second. Williams had a pair of scores and drove in the game-ending run in the bottom of the fifth.
Valley will travel to Zane Trace Saturday morning to play in the sectional championship game. The Indians had a double-header with the Pioneers recently, which saw the two teams split with each getting a win. According to Crabtree, Valley would have taken both games in the double-header, but one inning with a few fielding errors cost the Indians the game.
“We match up pretty well with them,” Crabtree said. “If we would have fielded the ball well, we would have taken the double-header. We hit the ball well and we pitched well. I feel good. Honestly the biggest thing for us all season has been defense. When we play good defense, we win ball games.”
First pitch for the Indians and Pioneers at Zane Trace is set for 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning, May 14, 2016.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.