One opportunity was out of reach but Mid-Valley managed to grab the next one available.

Corvallis Gerding Builders defeated the Southpaws in the first game of a doubleheader on July 17, keeping the Albany-based team from the possibility of claiming Area III’s top seed for the American Legion baseball AAA state playoffs.

Mid-Valley wasted no time regrouping, using a team meeting to find traction again on its way to a 7-3 win at Taylor Field in the rubber game of a three-game series.

The victory, fueled by a five-run second inning, makes the Southpaws (25-11, 11-4 Area III) the league’s second seed and they will host an opponent in the state’s best-of-three super regionals, which begins on July 22. 

“It was awesome how we came out ready to fight and jump on these guys,” said Mid-Valley’s Brenden Bliss, who had two hits and two RBIs.

After the Marketmen took the first game, 9-3, some mistakes led to five Mid-Valley runs in the second inning off Corvallis starter Casey Croy.

Bliss opened the scoring with a two-out RBI single to left, and a throwing error on an ensuing grounder made it 2-0. The Southpaws would score the next three runs on Briley Knight’s single, a wild pitch and a fielding error.

“I have to give my guys credit for responding on their yard when they got the momentum and we stopped it early,” Southpaws coach Troy Babbitt said.

Corvallis got a run back in the third on Jacob Trader’s two-out single to left. The Marketmen had an opportunity for more but left the bases loaded.

They climbed a little closer in the fifth on Trader’s double to left that scored two to make it 5-3.

But the Southpaws got that run back and one more in their next at-bat.

Bliss singled to score Caleb Beach, who hit a leadoff double. Bliss later scored on a wild pitch.

“I thought we pitched pretty well overall, even the second game,” Marketmen coach Evan Hilberg said of the twinbill. “We didn’t play real solid defense to start the game. Casey (Croy) did a good job of sticking it with it, too. Aloyis (Pitkin) did a good job in game one and Riley (Smith) came in and did a good job of closing it down.”

Mid-Valley’s Curtis Zamora pitched six innings. He allowed five hits and a walk with one strikeout. Knight pitched a scoreless seventh inning to finish the game.

Babbitt, whose team has won 19 of its last 22 games, said the early lead and having Zamora on the mound elevated everyone on the team.

“He dealt,” Bliss added. “He just came out throwing strikes, exactly what we needed to do and he got guys to pop out and roll over on ground balls.”

Croy went 6⅓ innings. He struck out two and gave up 10 hits and two walks with five wild pitches.

Kevin Crowell, Knight and Beach each had two hits for Mid-Valley, along with Beach. Trader had three hits and three RBIs for Corvallis.

The Marketmen pounded out 14 hits in a 9-3 win in the nine-inning first game.

Corvallis built a 5-0 lead through four innings with runs in all four frames.

Consecutive doubles by Croy and James Anderson brought in a run in the first. The Marketmen executed a double steal in the second, with Tanner Macal scoring from third after Logan Williams was safe at second. Croy later walked with the bases loaded to make it 3-0.

Nathan Lach drove in a run in the third with a two-out single to right. In the fourth, Blaise Sims came all the way around from first to score on Croy’s double to right-center.

The Marketmen made it five straight frames with a run on Sean Little’s RBI single in the fifth for a 6-0 lead. They added three more in the sixth on Macal’s two-run double and Logan Williams’ RBI single.

Mid-Valley had runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings against Pitkin, Corvallis’ starting pitcher, without anything to show for it but finally came through in the seventh.

Knight hit a two-run single and Adam Rappe, of Lebanon, drove in another with a one-bagger.

Pitkin pitched into the seventh. He allowed five hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

Williams had three hits. Croy and Macal added two hits and two RBIs each. Rappe had three hits for the second straight game.

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