State Baseball: West Rallies But Can’t Overcome Valley’s Offense in 10-5 Loss
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
DES MOINES, Iowa – They haven’t been to the state baseball tournament in six years, believe it or not.
“We haven’t been here in awhile,” West Des Moines Valley’s Ben Miller said Wednesday afternoon after his team’s 10-5 win over Iowa City West in a Class 4A quarterfinal at Principal Park. “But our coaches, they’ve never lost here, so we’ve got to keep that tradition going.”
There are a lot of traditions these Tigers are trying to keep going, and they look prepared for the main one: winning another state title. Valley had a remarkable string of four 4A championships in a row from 2003 to 2006.
This club has now won 15 of 16 games. It’s red hot, especially offensively, as West (34-9) learned the hard way.
“They were just so explosive today,” said West Coach Charlie Stumpff. “A lot of extra-base hits, then their speed. They just made lots of really good plays … Everytime we put up a challenge, they answered. We got beat by a really talented baseball team that’s playing well right now.”
Valley (34-9) scored twice in the first inning against West ace Kellen Yoder, then appeared to put the game away with a four-run fifth that included a long, long two-run home run by Austin Stephens that deflected off an upper-deck advertising sign in left-center. That was Stephens’ state-best 14th home run this season, Valley’s state-best 43rd and the first very first in five days of this tournament.
“Our offense is certainly putting up huge numbers,” said winning pitcher Nate Marshall. “And they’re picking each other up, too.”
The only inning Valley didn’t play well defensively was the bottom of the fifth, with West taking full advantage for four runs that put it right back in the game. The Trojans stranded the tying runs in scoring position.
West got within 6-5 with another run in the sixth, leaving the tying run at third, as leading hitter Reid Bonner grounded to first for the third out.
“We just wanted to chip away,” Bonner said. “We knew that we could make it a game, and we did.”
“We played our hearts out to come back,” said shortstop-pitcher Luke Crimmins.
Only to get them broken in the seventh, when Valley scored four humongous insurance runs. Three came home on Miller’s three-run double.
Valley outhit West by a 13-8 margin and stole four bases. Marshall (who threw a complete game in a regular-season victory over the Trojans) got the win, Yoder the loss.
“Just that kind of day,” said West’s Ryan Siems. “They put us in some tough situations, and they hit the ball.”
This was the fourth year in a row at state for West, which is still searching for its first championship.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Stumpff said. “From where we were to having the tying runs on, that’s all you could ask. Give Valley credit … They played better than us today.”
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