For the fans of the Mid-Valley Southpaws and Corvallis Gerding Builders Marketmen, it was probably no surprise the two Area 3 teams engaged in another another close battle on the baseball diamond on Wednesday afternoon.
There was plenty riding on this one.
The Marketmen nearly rallied from a three-run deficit and had the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base with two outs, but Mid-Valley held on for a 4-3 victory in an elimination game of the American Legion baseball AAA state tournament at Roseburg’s Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field.
The victory moved the Southpaws of Albany into the title game against Medford later Wednesday. Corvallis (27-20) finished third in the tournament.
“We knew it would be a battle,” said Corvallis coach Evan Hilberg. “Both teams wanted to fight and get into the championship game. Our guys played well and their guys stepped up and got some big hits. There was a lot of excitement at the end, too.”
The Southpaws appeared in good position to lock up their 27th win of the season, holding a 4-1 lead entering the top of the seventh. Mid-Valley starter Jayce Lien had held Corvallis to six hits and one run through six innings.
But the Marketmen came alive.
Ryan Hall led off with a bunt single, and following a groundout Sean Little was hit by a pitch. Axel Bumpus singled to right field, and Hall attempted to score from second, running through a stop signal by the third base coach. Hall was thrown out at the plate by rightfielder Kevin Crowell for the second out of the inning.
Justin Doyle followed with a single to load the bases. Mid-Valley coach Troy Babbitt elected to have Lien issue an intentional walk to James Anderson, who had blasted a solo home run over the left field fence in the second inning. Little scored to make it 4-2.
Lien then hit Logan Williams with a pitch, forcing in Bumpus with a run to make it a one-run game. Kyle Killen was the next hitter and lined out to third baseman Cooper Hartsell to end the contest.
“It’s like every game with them, like every game with Dallas (another Area 3 club),” Babbitt said. “They’re tough teams, we know it. You can’t quit, can’t give in — you have to go after guys and attack them.
“I give them credit. We had two hit batters, but were forcing them to put the ball in play. They did a great job, battled back and put themselves in position and were one hit away from taking the lead. It was tight.”
Lien — a right-hander who graduated from West Albany High in June — threw 87 pitches in going the distance. He allowed nine hits, striking out three and walking three.
“I just had to stay in the process (in the seventh inning),” said Lien. “I knew I could trust the coaching staff and trust Evan (Cyrus) behind the plate. I felt great today. Some pitches got away from me, but for the most part I felt good with what I was doing on the mound.”
Babbitt was pleased with Lien.
“All year long, he’s been like that. He didn’t change a bit,” the coach said. “You knew he could finish and he did exactly what we thought he could do.”
Grant Carley took the loss, allowing 10 hits and four earned runs with three strikeouts and two walks. He was relieved by Aaron Osborne in the sixth after throwing 103 pitches.
There were five bunt singles in the game, three by Mid-Valley.
Caleb Beach was 2-for-3 with three RBIs for the Southpaws. Cade Perrizo, Crowell and Brendan Bliss each chipped in two hits.
Little and Williams were both 2-for-3 for the Marketmen.
“We told the kids how proud we are of them for their efforts and the huge amounts of progress they’ve made,” said Hilberg. “Overall, a third place finish (at state) is awesome. But the other stuff is more meaningful to us.”
Corvallis 010 000 2 — 3 9 1
Mid-Valley 000 022 x — 4 11 2
Carley, Osborne (6) and L. Williams; Lien and Cyrus. WP — Lien. LP — Carley. HR — Anderson (C).
Hitting — Cor. 9-28 (Little 2-3, Bumpus 1-3, Doyle 1-4, Anderson 1-3, L. Williams 2-3, Killen 0-4, R. Williams 0-2, Hall 1-3, Leonard 1-3), M.V. 11-28 (Beach 2-4, Perrizo 2-4, Holder 1-3, Rappe 0-3, Rice 0-2, Cyrus 1-3, Hartsell 1-3, Crowell 2-3, Bliss 2-3). RBIs — Cor. 3 (Anderson 2, L. Williams), M.V. 4 (Beach 3, Rice).