Sailing along with a five-run lead, Valley literally booted itself out of a 2-and-out conquering of rival Charleston Catholic in the Class A Region 3, Section 2 baseball tournament Wednesday at Douglas Epling Stadium.

Then, the Irish put the finishing touches on Valley with a 12-7 triumph the following night.

After staking themselves to a 6-1 lead through 5 and 1/2 innings Wednesday, the No. 9 Greyhounds imploded, committing four errors in the final three frames to help the No. 10 Irish escape with a 9-8 verdict to knot the series at 1-1.

“You’ve got to play defense,” said Valley coach Joe Craffey. “You go around that infield the last inning, and (see the mistakes).

“You can’t expect the pitcher (James Newkirk in this case) to come in and stop everything. He threw ground balls and we didn’t make enough plays.”

Catholic’s Sam Wood raced home with the clinching run on the third Valley error of the seventh inning. Prior to that, Catholic had taken advantage of several other Valley blunders and some timely hitting of its own to get back in a game it seemingly had little chance of winning.

“I attribute our success to a never-quit attitude,” said Catholic coach Bill Mehle. “We got down pretty deep, pretty early, but we knew if we keep our heads in it (we’re there.)

“We had patient, quality at-bats, and obviously we needed some base runners. Them getting the first out in the seventh, that’s usually a killer. But our guys believed in themselves.”

Valley, which won the tourney opener 4-3, got a hot start, scoring four runs on four hits in the top of the first. A key blast during the surge was a Justin Hill double to the gap in left-center field that scored three runs. Hill later added a single and gunned down a Catholic base runner at third on a solid throw from right in the fourth before he was ejected from the game prior to the bottom of the sixth for throwing his helmet. He will have to sit out the next three games.

After the Irish pulled back to within 6-5 in the sixth, the ‘Hounds got a huge lift from catcher Josh Thompson, whose long two-run homer over the 40-foot fence in left-center put Valley back up, 8-5, in the top of the seventh.

“I felt real good there (after Thompson’s homer),” said Craffey. “Then, we got the lead man (Stephen Carey on a grounder to short) to start the seventh.”

Then, the wheels fell off for the ‘Hounds.

“After that, a ground ball and boot, a ground ball and boot, a hit ...,” Craffey said, his voice trailing off.

In the final crucial half-inning, Catholic’s John Baird first scored on an error after reaching on a walk to make it 8-6. After that, the Irish plated two more runs following the second VHS miscus of the inning, knotting the score at 8-all and setting the stage for a last, crippling run compliments of a Valley error.

Catholic the won the championship by registering the 5-run verdict Thursday.

Baird smacked two triples and Pack launched a home run for Catholic, and relief pitcher David Sadd, who got the win, and closer Nick Schumacher contributed to the victory. Schumacher struck out the last six batters for Valley (19-14).

Also last week:

Riverside 10

Capital 6

Dakota Davis pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning as Riverside turned back the Cougars to win the Class AAA Region 3, Section 4 championship Friday at Quincy.

The Warriors will face South Charleston on May 21 for the region championship.

Jake Harmon was 2-for-2 with two stolen bases and scored four runs for Riverside. Alex Kincaid hit a two-run homer, and Nick Veazey went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

— E-mail:

C. Catholic 9, Valley 8

V: Robert Van Meter, J.D. Boyd (3), James Newkirk (6) and Josh Thompson. CC: Sam Wood, Will Pack (4) and John Baird. WP — Pack (4-5). LP — Newkirk. Hitting — V: Boyd 2-4, Damian Elswick 1-3 (rbi), Justin Hill 2-4 (2b, 3 rbi), Cole Wriston 2-3 (rbi), Thompson 3-4 (hr, 2 rbi), CC: Taylor Johnson 1-3 (2 rbi), Nick Schumacher 2-4, Stephen Carey 1-3 (rbi), Pack 2-4 (3b), Baird 2-2 (rbi), Wood 2-3 (2b, rbi).

Records: CC 19-13, V 19-13

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