When Lookout Valley pushed across four runs in each of its first two at-bats Monday night in a Region 2-A semifinal matchup with visiting Coalfield, coach Lance Rorex had but one thought.
“I told the guys in the dugout, let’s get three outs here and three outs there, anyway we could,” Rorex said.
And pitchers Riley Phillips and closer Cole Janeway did just enough of it to secure an 8-6 win over Coalfield and earn a spot in the Region 2A finals for the first time since 2010.
A familiar opponent awaits as CSAS upset Rockwood in the other 2A semis with a thrilling 13-12 win.
“We came out swinging it tonight. We always want to win the inning and when you are winning it by putting up crooked numbers, all the better. We did just enough in innings three through seven. We made the plays when we had to,” Rorex said.
Coalfield (14-13) took an early lead in the first on the first of Nathan Harvey’s three hits and a double by Jake Kilby. Phillips picked Kilby off second base to end the inning and it only served to get the Jackets’ nest stirred up before a large home contingent.
LV (25-8) got it going with Joshua Ibach’s single. After a walk put runners on the corners, Gavin Slaven singled sharply to center to knot it at 1-1. Another walk loaded the bases and a fielding error put LV up 2-1. Truston Everette worked a bases-loaded walk to push it to 3-1 and a ground out got it to 4-1.
Coalfield cut it to 4-2 on a single, stolen base, wild pitch and sac fly before the Jackets went back to work with another crooked number effort.
Ibach got it started again with a hit by pitch. Rylan Chandler followed with a single and the jackets pulled off a double steal to put both runners in scoring position. A ground out made it 5-2 and after a walk and a steal, a fielding error pushed across two more and it was 7-2. Everette then singled in a run for the 8-2 margin.
From that point on, it was hold on to your hats. Coalfield got two back in the third on two of LV’s five errors on the night to cut it to 8-4. Two singles and an error in the fifth got it to 8-6 and Phillips day was done after the inning.
“Riley was such a competitor. He did his thing. When we got to where we needed the six outs, Cole said he wanted the ball so we gave it to him,” Rorex said.
Coalfield got a pair of hits in the sixth, but Janeway stranded them with two strikeouts and a fly out.
In the seventh, he got his third K and after a walk, he induced a liner to right fielder Christian Sexton who turned the game-ending double play when the runner took off.
Slaven, Janeway and Everette each drove in two runs for LV who were out-hit 11-5.
“I told the guys it didn’t matter at this point. We just had to find a way to win this game and they did,” Rorex added.
Harvey had three base knocks for Coalfield and Kilby, Wyatt Withrow and Ashton Jones each had two apiece.
COALFIELD 112 020 0 – 6 11 3
LOOKOUT VALLEY 440 000 0 – 8 5 5
Byrd, Jones (2) and Withrow; Phillips, Janeway (6) and Slaven.
(Contact James Beach at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @beachnut1134)