Hidden Valley had all systems on ‘go’ Tuesday afternoon at Titan Field.
The starting pitching was sharp, the base running crisp and the defense did its part. That resulted in a long afternoon for the visitors from Magna Vista, as the Titans easily won the regional quarterfinal 11-2.
Hidden Valley advanced to play Tunstall Thursday in Martinsville with a state berth on the line for the winner.
Tuesday, the Titans kept building on a 1-0 lead after the first inning with two in the second, four in the third and a pair in the fifth. With Hidden Valley starting pitcher Avery Pierce dominating the Warrior bats, the Titans were up 9-0 before Magna Vista could scratch out its first run in the sixth on a bases loaded walk. By that time, it was too little, too late for a Warrior team that was playing its second game in as many days.
Hidden Valley added a pair of runs in their half of the sixth, and Magna Vista plated a second run in the top of the seventh for the final margin.
It was station-to-station baseball for Hidden Valley all afternoon. The Titans used walks, singles, base stealing, sacrifices and several passed balls to keep the base paths in motion.
“We wanted to manufacture runs,” Hidden Valley head coach Jason Taylor noted after the game. “You never know in this game. We gave up seven runs in the top of the seventh against Blacksburg last week and lost 8-7. I told our guys Magna Vista had won their last two.”
While the Warriors had reached the quarterfinals with an extra-inning 8-5 win over Tazewell on Monday, Pierce made sure the Warriors were kept off the board in the early-going Tuesday.
Pierce showed the first sign of tiring in the sixth when Magna Vista got runners at first and third with two outs. Hidden Valley pitching coach Randy Boone strolled to the mound for a meeting, leaving Pierce in with the nine-run advantage. When the next batter walked to load the bases, Boone was back out to summon reliever Sean O’Connell from the bullpen.
“We learned from an earlier game not to push it,” Pierce, who has not lost a game all season, pointed out. “They gave me that one last batter. We’ve got some good guys to go to at that point.”
O’Connell walked the first batter he faced, forcing in the first Warrior run, but then retired Magna Vista leadoff hitter BJ Pritchett on a grounder to end any further damage. Taylor Martin pitched the seventh for Hidden Valley, picking up a hold along with O’Connell.
Hidden Valley got three hits from both Ben Schmidt and Joseph Bolinger among the ten the Titans banged out for the game.
“We’ve got our pitching rotation in place for the final stretch,” Taylor added. “We’ll be looking to make a run.”
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