(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SCOTT CITY -- The scales were tipped after one play.
What started out as a close game for the first four innings, ended in a lopsided win for the defending Class 2 state champion Valle Catholic Warriors in Scott City after a sliding catch by Valle's Zach Weiler ended the Scott City Rams' threat in the fourth inning.
Weiler robbed a base hit from Skylar Cobb in left field which may have given the Rams a 3-1 lead.
"If that ball gets through it's 3-1 at that point and you have a guy on second with two outs and our number two batter up," Scott City head coach Lance Amick said. "Just a few plays away from being in the ball game."
The Warriors (2-2) rode Weiler's catch to an 18-4 rout of Scott City (1-1) on Monday evening.
After draining the momentum from the Rams with his catch, Weiler did one better with his bat the very next inning. He blasted a 3-run home run into left-centerfield that gave Valle a commanding 6-1 advantage. It was also the biggest blow that led to the ousting of starting pitcher Skylar Cobb, who had pitched effectively until that point.
"That was a huge play for him because he was the one in the inning before that didn't tag up," Valle head coach Judd Naeger said about Weiler's personal momentum swing. "He goes out and makes a great play in left field and comes back the next inning and hits a 3-run home run. That was big for Zach and big for us."
Weiler led all batters with four hits and five RBIs as the Warriors banged out a total of 19 hits.
Cobb kept the potent Valle offense at bay as long and as best he could. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up just one, unearned run in the third inning, but was tagged with five earned runs in the fifth that included Weiler's 3-run shot. Cobb took the loss allowing nine hits and one walk.
"Didn't look like he had his best stuff today," Amick said about Cobb. "He was a little high but, that's one of the better teams in the state. They housed everybody in the state playoffs last year. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat."
Nathan Geile received the win for Valle after going four innings and throwing a total of 80 pitches. He allowed one unearned run on two hits and six walks. Geile also struck out five.
"He did a good job all night," said Naeger. "We got him on a pretty strict count and as the season goes on and as it continues to warm up he just gets better and better."
Despite watching the Warriors claim a 5-run lead, Scott City came right back and posted three runs of their own in their half of the fifth.
The Rams got started after Landon Roberts finished an 11-pitch at-bat, fouling off six pitches, with a single into right field. He later scored on a fielder's choice. Jamie Scholtz provided the Rams' with a 2-run double, deep into the right-centerfield gap that scored Justin Modglin from third and Chris Limbaugh all the way from first trimming the Valle lead to a 6-4 game.
"It was 6-1 and it's easy to fold up shot there," Amick said. "Kid's came out and put together a big inning. We were just one big hit away from being right there."
The Rams had a chance to cut the lead again or perhaps take a lead after working the bases loaded with a little help from Valle relief pitcher Jason Blum. Blum, who began pitching at the start of the fifth inning walked both Ryan Fortner and Wyatt Martin to load the bases with two outs. With a full count, Cobb grounded out to short to end the inning.
"It was 6-4 and we got the bases loaded with two outs and our best batter up there batting," Amick said. "He probably swung at ball four and, you know at that point right there, getting a hit makes it a totally different ballgame. But, they're number one in the state for a reason. They're pretty good."
Valle plugged away after that. They tacked on two runs in the sixth and essentially ended the game with an eight-hit barrage that accounted for 10 runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Scott City's Alex Eichhorn recorded the final out after being gunned down at the plate. A double by Fortner that hit the right field fence was relayed perfectly by Nolan Carrow, to Blum and then to catcher Aaron Basler who applied a quick tag to Eichhorn to end the game.
It was just that kind of night for the Rams.
"I like where we're at," Amick said. "We were a just a few plays away from really being in the ballgame and we just really didn't make those plays. Momentum and a few stupid plays in the seventh and it turns into a blowout."
Valle 001 052 (10) -- 18
Scott City 000 130 0 -- 4
WP -- Nathan Geile (V). LP -- Skylar Cobb (S). Multiple hitters: VALLE -- Geile 2, Aaron Basler 2, Zach Weiler 4, Brett Shuh 3, Nolan Carrow 2, Andrew Bader 2. SCOTT CITY -- Austin Raines 2, Chris Limbaugh 2. 2B -- Luke Uding (V), Basler (V), Jason Blum (V), Shuhn (V), Carrow (V), Raines (S), Jamie Scholtz (S), Ryan Fortner (S). HR -- Weiler (V).