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Big Valley moves in after tough extra inning affair

Story and photo Courtesy of Shane Strohecker

In an elimination match up this evening Big Valley 9/10 All Stars showed heart, grit, and slapped some leather. Bellefonte starting pitcher kept the Big Valley bats quiet striking out 8 of the first 9 batters through 3 innings! Bellefonte had the lead 2 – 0. In the top of the fourth inning, Big Valley’s Evan Strohecker got the rally started with a single to left centerfield. Logan Alexander followed with a single of his own setting the table for Braden Sunderland. Sunderland certainly did not disappoint the Big Valley crowd, he stroked a double over the left fielder’s head to tie the game at 2. A few pitches later Sunderland advanced to 3rd and later scored on a wild pitch to give Big Valley their first lead. In the bottom half of the inning Sunderland continued to pitch with efficiency; throwing strikes and letting his defense make the plays. Again, the combination of Sunderland, Strohecker and Alexander made all the putouts in the inning. In the top of the fifth inning Strohecker singled with two outs but was stranded at first. Sunderland’s arm did not disappoint in the bottom half of the fifth, he recorded 3 outs on five pitches. In the top half of the sixth inning Sunderland’s hot bat continued getting a one out ground rule double that bounced over the left field fence. That would be all Big Valley could do holding a 3 – 2 lead going into the bottom of the 6th. Bellefonte would not go away. With Sunderland still on the mound, Bellefonte’s lead off hitter would end up on 3rd base following a rare Big Valley miscue in the outfield. Sunderland was not rattled, he got the next batter to ground out to the pitcher. With one out and runner on third, Bellefonte’s batter laid down a bunt, Sunderland fielded the bunt, checked the runner and on the throw to first the runner from third breaks for home. The throw from first baseman Jacob Bauman was not in time and Bellefonte tied the game at three. After another Big Valley miscue Bellefonte had the winning run on second base with 2 outs. Sunderland got Bellefonte batter to hit a ground ball to Strohecker at shortstop. Strohecker with the heads up play tags the runner advancing to third.

Extra innings we go tied at 3 – 3. Big Valley went down in order to start the 7th inning. Sunderland’s tremendous control and efficient pitching allowed him to pitch the 7th inning as he was still under his pitch count. He sent the Bellefonte batters down in order 1-2-3.

On to the 8th. Big Valley’s lead off hitter Mason Krepps was hit by a pitch. With one out Alexander delivered with an RBI double to left field to give Big Valley a 4 – 3 lead. The hot bat of Sunderland delivered a triple to the left field fence scoring Alexander easily from third. Sunderland did not stay their long as he scampered home on a wild pitch giving Big Valley a 6 – 3 lead.

Big Valley called on their closer, Jacob Bauman to finish the game. Bauman did not disappoint, getting the first batter to ground out before issuing a walk. That did not phase Bauman. He came back with a strikeout on the next batter and Big Valley ended the game when Nathan Parkes fielded a weak ground ball and threw out the Bellefonte runner at first.

Sunderland finished the game with 3 hits; 2 doubles and a triple. Alexander and Strohecker delivered with two hits each. Sunderland pitched 7 efficient innings of baseball only allowing three runs on 5 hits, Bauman allowed no hits in dealing the deal. Big Valley plays host to Phillipburg/Four Leaf winner Wednesday night at the Youth Park in Reedsville!

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