LANCASTER — A timely hit, or the lack of one, is oftentimes the difference between victory and defeat in baseball. Case in point: Saturday’s OHSAA Division IV, Regional 15 Tournament Final
Valley’s Indians took a lead early, never looked back, and then extended its advantage with timely hitting in later innings of the game to defeat Hiland 5-2 and claim the tournament championship.
The Hawks had plenty of opportunities to turn the tide of the contest. Hiland left 11 runners on base in the game, including bases-loaded situations in the third and fourth innings, the latter with only one out. But Hiland’s batters had just one hit in the seven times they came to the plate facing RISP, or runners in scoring position, opportunities over those two innings.
Credit goes Carter Nickel, the second of Valley’s sophomore starting pitching duo, who went the distance on the mound to gain his sixth victory of the season. Nickel struck out seven, four in either bases-loaded or runner-on-third situations, in allowing eight hits.
“Carter pitched out of a few jams and just kept attacking their hitters,” Valley Coach Nolan Crabtree said. “That’s a big spot for a sophomore and he was unbelievable.”
Crabtree also praised his offense, which lashed 12 hits against Hiland pitchers Derrick Troyer and Nolan Yoder. “To pound out 10-plus hits on a team like Hiland is quite an accomplishment,” he added.
“George Arnett came through with an RBI double. It happened at a pivotal point in the game (bottom of third with the game tied 1-1) and really swung the momentum back in our direction. And our seniors Andrew Andronis and Blake Wood combined for five hits and scored four of our runs. Huge performances by those two.”
Chase Morrow and Nickel also contributed with two hits each for Valley. For Hiland, Reece Schlabach and Nolan Yoder had a two-hit game. Casey Lowe (a triple), Collin Lowe (a double), Derrick Troyer and Grant Miller also added hits. Lead-off batter Jared Hostetler drew two of the five walks which Valley’s Nickel yielded.
“We just needed a little better execution on defense in a few spots, and one timely hit could have made the difference,” Hiland Coach Chris Dages said. “Credit Valley for making all their plays and getting those timely hits.”
Defense, a shining part of the Hawks’ stellar season, could have been better in the championship contest. An error fielding a ball that Arnett hit in the bottom of the first inning led to Valley taking a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, Valley got another unearned run on a balk to extend its scoreboard advantage to 4-2. Only three of the Indians’ five runs were earned.
Troyer (10-1) took the loss for Hiland. Troyer and Yoder each hurled three innings in the championship contest.
Dages told his players after the contest to be proud of their accomplishments in 2021. “We had a great season, and we were only eight teams in Ohio playing HS baseball on Division IV on Saturday,” he said. “I told the younger guys to learn from the senior leadership and carry it into next season. Our seniors of upheld the tradition of quality Hiland baseball, and it it’s time for the younger guys to pick up the torch. As difficult as it is to get knocked out of the tournament, they have nothing to hand their heads about.”
Victorious Coach Crabtree echoed some of those same sentiments.
“This (tournament) has been an amazing experience for the kids and for our Valley community,” he said. “I’m just extremely blessed and proud to be a part of it.”
“Hiland is a top-notch program. They do things the right way and have had big success at the state level,” he added. “To be able to compete like we did yesterday versus that type of team was really special.”
With the loss Hiland’s season ends at 27-5. Valley, now 20-11, goes on to the Division IV State tournament where it will oppose the Lincolnview Lancers at 10 a.m. on June 11 at Canal Park Stadium in Akron.
PHOTO GALLERY ONE: East Knox and Hiland
PHOTO GALLERY TWO: Valley and Paint Valley
Box Score details courtesy of Gamechanger.com
2B: Collin Lowe
3B: Casey Lowe
TB: Casey Lowe 3, Reece Schlabach 2, Nolan Yoder 2, Collin Lowe 2, Derrick Troyer, Grant Miller
RBI: Casey Lowe, Reece Schlabach
SAC: Collin Lowe
FC: Isiah Miller, Collin Lowe
SB: Jared Hostetler
Team QAB: 18 (52.94%)
Jared Hostetler 3, Casey Lowe, Reece Schlabach 4, Isiah Miller, Nolan Yoder, Collin Lowe 3, Derrick Troyer, Isaak Yoder, Grant Miller 2, Tony Yoder
Team LOB: 11
Fielding E: Nolan Yoder
2B: Chase Morrow, George Arnett
TB: Breckon Williams, Andrew Andronis 2, Blake Wood 2, Chase Morrow 3, Carter Nickel 2, George Arnett 3, Hunter Edwards
RBI: George Arnett 3, Hunter Edwards
SAC: Hunter Edwards, Jace Copley
ROE: Blake Wood
FC: Christopher Queen, Jace Copley
HBP: Andrew Andronis
SB: Andrew Andronis
CS: George Arnett
Team QAB: 9 (29.03%)
Breckon Williams, Andrew Andronis 2, Blake Wood, Chase Morrow, George Arnett, Hunter Edwards 2, Jace Copley
Team LOB: 7
L: Derrick Troyer
HBP: Derrick Troyer
WP: Derrick Troyer
Pitches-Strikes: Derrick Troyer 45-31, Nolan Yoder 39-31
Groundouts-Flyouts: Derrick Troyer 2-0,Nolan Yoder18 5-1
First pitch strikes-Batters faced: Derrick Troyer 10-15, Nolan Yoder 14-16
W: Carter Nickel
WP: Carter Nickel
Pitches-Strikes: Carter Nickel 123-73
Groundouts-Flyouts: Carter Nickel 1-11
First pitch strikes-Batters faced: Carter Nickel 22-34