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  • Val T.

Wabash rallies for 2 in 7th, beats Valley

Davis drives in 2 for Vikes in loss


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

WABASH — Andrew Dillon capped a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh with a walk-off sacrifice fly to give the Wabash baseball team a 4-3 win over visiting Tippecanoe Valley in the Three Rivers Conference opener for both teams at Chris Rood Field on April 20.

Braxton Davis

Wabash improved to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in the TRC.

Braxton Davis had a two-run double and D.J. Estep had an RBI single for Valley, who fell to 1-2, 0-1.

Valley carried a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.

Valley sophomore lefty Cameron Manuel pitched a 1-2-3 sixth in relief and was seeking a save in relief of starter Markus Bernicky, who allowed two runs over the first five innings.

But Manuel walked Jared Brooks and hit Justin Booth with a pitch. Brooks and Booth then pulled off a double steal with Brooks just beating catcher Annikan Pettit’s throw on a close play at third. Manuel slipped a called third strike past Keaton Fields.

That brought up Trevor Daughtry, the No. 9 batter in Wabash’s order. He laid down a bunt on the right side of the infield. Brooks hesitated to make sure the ball would land and then headed home. Valley first baseman Noah Prater fielded and threw home, but it was just late, and Brooks was safe to tie the game.

Dillon then flew out to center fielder Hunter Craft, but Craft’s throw was late, and Booth scored the winning run.

“They did exactly what they had to do,” Valley coach Jarred Littlejohn said. “That kid hit a sac fly into center. That’s exactly what you have to do. And then that bunt, we knew it was coming. He showed it twice right before that. It was a good bunt by him. He did exactly what they were supposed to do. I wish we could take back that hit-by-pitch. … Especially with the bottom of the lineup, they did exactly what they were supposed to do. Hats off to them because that’s baseball.”

Wabash starter Chayden Beeks had blanked Valley on three hits through five innings before they got to him in the sixth.

Craft led off with a single, and Prater grounded into a forceout. Pettit’s bloop single moved Prater to second. Estep lined a single sharply through the box to score Prater and cut the Wabash lead to 2-1.

Bernicky walked to load the bases. Davis then cracked a fly over Jason Tait’s head in left field. Pettit and Estep scored, but Bernicky was thrown out trying to score on the play.

Still, Valley had their first lead at 3-2.

Beeks then caught Davis straying too far off the bag and ran at him and eventually caught him in a pickle and tagged him to retire the side.

In addition to Landon Walters being picked off in the fourth, Valley had three runners retired on the bases.

“A lot of that was my fault,” Littlejohn said. “I sent Bernicky home, and I probably shouldn’t have. But when we’re in that momentum, and we’re scoring runs, and we haven’t scored all game, I just wanted to score Bernicky. And that pickoff, that’s unacceptable. That’s something we’ve got to work on as a team.”

Valley would have runners on second and third with one out in the seventh. Manuel reached on an error and Damion Kohler singled before they pulled off a double steal.

But Beeks struck out Craft looking and Prater swinging to escape trouble.

Wabash then pulled off their rally in the bottom half.

“That’s just the stuff we work on all the time,” Wabash interim coach Kyle Kelsheimer said. “That’s what makes us a strong team. Being able to execute that today is just a testament to how much work we put in.”

Beeks’ RBI single in the first and Blake Smith’s RBI groundout to second base gave Wabash a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Viking notes

  • Valley got in eight nonconference games before playing their first conference game last year. This year’s unusually cool, wet spring meant they were only able to get two nonconference games before their conference opener.

“It hurts for sure,” Littlejohn said. “I don’t want to make excuses, but those nonconference games really help us, especially our nonconference schedule. Bremen’s good, Warsaw’s good, Fairfield’s good. Seeing those schools before we get into conference, that’s huge for us, and we didn’t get to. It is what it is, and we’ve just got to keep rolling.”

Wabash 4, Valley 3

Valley 000 003 0 – 3 8 1

Wabash 200 000 2 – 4 6 1

WP – Chayden Beeks (7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)

LP – Cameron Manuel (1 ⅔ IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 K)

2B – Braxton Davis (TV), Jason Tait 2 (WAB)


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