A late-inning offensive eruption has Mid-Valley on the brink of the American Legion baseball AAA state tournament.
The Southpaws plated five runs in the seventh inning and four more in the eighth, running away for a 15-7 victory on July 21 over Salem Withnell in Game 1 of the best-of-three super regionals at West Albany High. Mid-Valley (26-11) will try to punch its ticket to the state tournament at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re deep and our lineup is pretty consistent all the way through,” Mid-Valley coach Troy Babbitt said. “We’ve got a couple guys in the middle that really spark that, and they did that tonight.”
Dylan Williams finished 4 for 5 with five RBIs, collecting a two-RBI base hit in the seventh and driving in another the following inning. Adam Rappe went 2 for 6 with four RBIs while Brenden Bliss and Connor Spevacek were each 3 for 6.
The Southpaws had 17 hits as a team.
Nick Orlandini was 4 for 5 with three doubles and a triple to lead the Dodgers (24-16), who placed fourth in Area III. Salem will need to defeat its district rival twice Saturday to earn a matchup with the Medford Mustangs at the state tournament.
Mid-Valley, which will throw Curtis Zamora in Game 2, is the No. 2 seed from Area III.
The Southpaws put it away with a five-run seventh.
Williams lined a 1-2 fastball from reliever Gavin Fredinburg into center that plated Caleb Beach and Bliss for an 8-6 lead. Two batters later, a mile-high popup off the bat of Rappe was never located in the dim twilight sky by the Dodgers, dropping in shallow left-center for a three-RBI triple.
After Salem got one back in the eighth, the Southpaws tallied four more in the home half. Evan Cyrus laced a two-run double while Williams (single) and Rappe (double) each had lone RBIs.
Porter Phillips picked up the win after throwing 2⅔ innings of one-run relief. Phillips struck out four with one walk.
Starter Jacob Miller walked four of the first eight batters he faced and plunked the ninth on a breaking ball. The right-hander issued just one free pass the rest of the way, exiting after 6⅓ solid innings.
“He just had to settle in,” Babbitt said. “I think that it was a little bit of early frustration on his end. He had to get past that, and once he did that he became Jacob again.”
Miller gave six runs (four earned) on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Plate discipline helped Salem grab a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
After retiring the game's first two batters, Miller walked Max Long and Tanner Sorensen. Justin Culpepper then grounded a bad-hop single under Rappe's glove at third to drive in Long.
Mid-Valley tied it in the bottom of the frame when Cyrus drew a two-out walk, swiped second and scored on a Williams base hit up the middle.
The Dodgers went up 2-1 in the second following two more free passes, a hit batsman and an error. The hosts turned an inning-ending twin-killing to prevent further damage.
Bliss evened the score in the fourth with a single that drove in Spevacek, who led off with a bloop double to left. Fielders' choices from Williams and Cody Johnson brought home Bliss and Kevin Crowell for a 4-2 lead.
Sparked by another Spevacek leadoff double, the Southpaws added two more in the fifth. Beach singled home Spevacek and later scored on an error, pushing the advantage to 6-2.
Salem scratched across one in the sixth and pulled even with three in the seventh. Orlandini knocked in two with a base hit off Phillips and Kaiden Doten worked a bases-loaded walk against the lefty to tie the game.
But the Southpaws erupted late to take control for good.