West Noble put the heat on the Vikings early, using a two-run homer from Korey Kendall in the first inning to jump out to an early lead. From there, the Vikings did the rest. A four-run bottom of the first, highlighted by a two-run single from Mason Teel and RBI double by Dan Miller, shifted the power balance.
A single and stolen base from Tanner Andrews in the second inning allowed James Hackworth to single home the fifth run, and a two-run double by Jacob Ritchie in the bottom of the third gave the Vikings (15-8) much needed breathing room.
“West Noble had a lot of momentum early, and Clay got behind a couple of batters early and they took advantage,” started Valley head coach Ryan Moore. “Clay is an out pitcher, not a strikeout pitcher, so he started getting ahead of batters and getting pop flies. That’s what he was able to do, and that’s why we were able to win the game.”
After a rocky first inning, pitcher Clayton Adamson settled in, keeping a motivated West Noble lineup in check. Only recording one strikeout, Adamson let his defense do the work. Two nifty plays by Andrews at shortstop gunned down runners at third, and Ritchie threw out a runner from behind the plate to end the fourth inning.
Aside from the first, West Noble (5-22) had loaded the bases in the second inning before Adamson struck out Skylar Campbell for the second out. A tremendous running catch from Teel in deep left field off the bat of Kevin Marsh saved at least two runs, posing the last major threat from the Chargers.
“I’m not scared to face any batter with the pitchers we have,” Moore said. “I feel like our guys can get any batter out. If they hit their spots, locate the ball, they can get guys out. That’s what Clay did to (Kendall), he shut him down after the first inning.”
Adamson gave up just six hits in the game as the Vikings move to the title game to face NorthWood, a 7-1 winner over Lakeland in game two this afternoon. The Panthers (20-8) face the Vikings in a 5 p.m. championship tilt.
Nick Noe, the hero for West Noble in the come-from-behind win against Wawasee on Wednesday, took the loss pitching five innings, giving up eight earned runs and striking out just one.
Valley, which was knocked out of last year’s sectional by West Noble, is seeking its fifth sectional title after repeating in 2009 and 2010. NorthWood, the defending sectional champion, is playing for its seventh title.
“We don’t know anything about these teams, so I’m going to stay here and do a little scouting,” Moore admitted about Lakeland and NorthWood. “We are just going to prepare like any other game and see what happens.”