Devils open postseason with 5-4 win over Valley –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Sometimes high school sporting events can be tough to watch with two not-so-evenly matched teams, but that was definitely not the case on Wednesday afternoon at Valley High School in Lucasville. A Division III sectional baseball contest between the North Adams Green Devils and the Indians of Valley turned out to be one of the most well-played and exciting games of the season.
The game was scheduled to be played in Seaman, but because of the field conditions there, the game was moved to Lucasville, with the Devils still being the home team on the scoreboard, a fact which turned out to be very important by day’s end.
After a first inning that saw both teams score three times, the game turned into a pitcher’s duel between North Adams starter Austin Parks and Valley’s Tucker Williams, coming down to the game’s final at-bat, where a one-out base hit to left by senior Ben Figgins brought home Parks with the winning run as the Devils moved to the sectional finals with the 5-4 triumph.
“I was extremely proud of our guys tonight,” said North Adams head coach Rob Meade. “It was truly a team win in a very good high school baseball game.”
“There were many plays that were key, but the most critical in my mind were that we responded in our half of the inning each time that Valley scored runs.”
The Indians got he scoring started in the top of the first when they touched up Parks for three runs, but the North Adams offense came right back in their half of the first to plate three of their own. Bryant Lung led off the inning with a base hit to left, followed by another base knock by number two- hole hitter Ryan Shupert. A base hit to center by Elijah Young brought Lung home to make it 3-1. Parks reached on an error and a ground out by Tyler Horsley brought home Shupert with the second run.
Seth Daulton then hit a ground ball back to the mound and on the throw to first, Young came racing home and with a perfect head first slide, eluded the catcher’s tag to score the tying run.
After both teams went scoreless in the second, the Indians picked up one in the top of the third when a run came home on a wild pitch into the wide expanse of space behind the plate on Valley’s field. Again, the Devils had a quick response, deadlocking the game by scoring one in their half of the third. Young led off the frame with a walk, moved around to third on a pair of ground outs, then came home on a base hit by Daulton to make it 4-4.
North Adams got a two-out double from Bryant Lung in the fourth but left him stranded, and then in the bottom of the fifth, put runners at second and third but a sharp line drive off the bat of Figgins was right at the Valley center fielder for the third out, though the senior left fielder would soon have another chance.
Valley put a runner at second in the sixth but couldn’t move him any further, and the Devils put together a threat in the bottom of the sixth. Dalton Gardner was hit by a pitch and sacrificed to second by a Colt Shumaker bunt. Bryant Lung walked, but Williams got out of the jam by enticing Shupert to ground into a fielder’s choice and then striking out Young looking.
In the top of the seventh, the Indians put runners at second and third via a walk and a base hit. Coach Meade chose to intentionally walk the next hitter to load the bases and the strategy worked out. Parks got Williams to hit a sharp ground ball to first baseman Daulton, who came home with the throw for the force out and the second out.
At that point, Coach Meade made the decision to pull Parks and replace him with the southpaw Daulton. Daulton did the job and did it quickly and efficiently, throwing just one pitch to get the third out on a fly ball to Shumaker in center.
That set up the decisive bottom of the seventh, which Parks led off with a solid base hit to center. Horsley then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runner into scoring position. Daulton then reached on an error by the shortstop, leaving runners at the corner and bringing Figgins back to the plate. The Valley coaching staff opted not to walk Figgins to load the bases, which backfired on the Indians.
On the second pitch, Figgins attempted to put down a suicide squeeze but missed, and luckily for the Devils, Young was able to scamper back to third base without a throw. Two pitches later, Figgins connected on a solid line drive single to left, allowing Parks to come home with the walk-off game winner that send the Devils into a sectional final game at Portsmouth West on Saturday morning.
“I was just thinking that I was a senior and had to do something to keep our season alive,” said an excited Figgins after his big hit. “After I missed the squeeze bunt, I just waited for the next good pitch to drive.”
“I was excited for Ben to come up with that big hit,” said Coach Meade. “He had hit the ball very hard in his previous at-bats and had nothing to show for it. All three of our seniors were critical to our success today.”
After a yeoman’s effort on the mound by Parks, who went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one earned run on four hits, Daulton got the win with his one pitch that retired the side in the top of the seventh. Eight different Devils got base hits at the plate, two each from Bryant Lung and Parks, with Daulton driving home two.
“Austin threw the ball fairly well tonight, but worked from behind in the count too much,” added Coach Meade. “Fortunately our defense kept the six walks from hurting us too much. Seth Daulton made a key defensive play and then got the big fly ball out on the mound.”
Weather permitting, the Devils were scheduled to finish up regular season play on Friday, May 12 with a make-up game at Fairfield, where a win will earn North Adams a second place finish in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. The Division III sectional title game is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, when North Adams will battle Portsmouth West for the right to move on to the district tourney at Paint Stadium in Chillicothe.
301 000 0 –4
301 000 1 –5
Valley Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Cunningham 1-1-0-0, Mollette 2-0-0-0, Morrow 4-1-1-0, Jones 2-2-1-1, Williams 4-0-0-0, Mitchell 0-0-0-0, Bowling 3-0-1-1, Ruby 3-0-0-0, H. Greathouse 3-0-1-0, Howard 0-0-0-0, C. Greathouse 3-0-0-0, Team 25-4-4-2.
Extra-Base Hits: Jones 2B, H. Greathouse 2B
N. Adams Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): B. Lung 3-1-2-0, Shupert 4-1-1-0, Young 3-2-1-1, Parks 4-1-2-0, Horsley 3-0-1-1, Daulton 4-0-1-2, Figgins 4-0-1-1, Gardner 2-0-0-0, Shumaker 2-0-1-0, N. Lung 0-0-0-0, Team 29-5-10-5.
Extra-Base Hits: B. Lung 2B
Valley Pitching: Williams (L) 6.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 110 pitches
N. Adams Pitching: Parks 6.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 3 K, 106 pitches
Daulton (W) 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 pitch