WALLA WALLA - "If we are going to host that thing, we've got to be the team to get there," Valley 11-12 All-Star manager Sam Worth said of the Little League state tournament earlier in the District 5 playoff here at Pacific Little League complex. "That's our goal."
Valley accomplished its goal here in winner-take-all action Friday. Valley used a six-run fourth to overcome a one-run deficit and went on to claim the district championship with a 7-3 win over Pacific.
It was a dramatic turn around for a Valley squad that suffered a 15-5 loss to Pacific the night before to force Friday's game.
"After getting thumped around pretty good last night, these guys were tuned in today," Worth said. "That's all we could ask."
Pacific's Ben Ortiz collected the first hit of the game with a first-inning single, but Carter Davis, on the hill for Valley, got out of a two-on, two-out jam to keep it scoreless. Parker Likes reached on a misplay in the Valley first. Likes scored on a Pacific errant play and Valley led 1-0.
Pacific got even in the second as an infield hit by Jack Weigand set up Mason Knowles to line a single down the left field line to drive home Josh Bergevin, who had reached on a fielder's choice. Davis escaped further damage with a bases-loaded, two-out strikeout to end the Pacific second.
Matt Baumgart led off the Pacific fourth with a single and got to third with one out following a ground out and a leg single by Scot Golden. Knowles lifted a fly to left that Patrick McKibben handled, but Baumgart slid home just ahead of McKibben's throw as Pacific grabbed a 2-1 lead.
Isaiah Lomeli drew a walk to start the Valley fourth and it unraveled for Pacific.
"Anytime in baseball that you put the leadoff guy on, things seem to happen," Pacific manager John Knowles said. "And that's what happened. Walked a couple of batters and hit one. That was a tough inning."
After Joshua Camacho ran for Lomeli, and Silas Shumate walked, Camacho scored on Andrew Kemp's grounder that was mis played. Valley was even at 2-2 with Shumate left at third and Kemp at second. Dalton James delivered both with a double to the left center gap and Valley had the lead for good at 4-2.
"We finally got to their pitching," Worth said. "He (James) is Joe Smiley. He's a happy kid that comes to play and focuses up well."
Before Pacific could close the barn door in the fourth, Valley sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs to take a 7-2 lead to the fifth.
Davis worked a perfect fifth, gave up an infield hit to Connor Hoeft and a bases loaded walk to Ortiz in the sixth, but got a fly to right to end the game and end Pacific's bases loaded threat. Davis pitched a complete game, scattered seven hits, while striking out two in earning the win.
"He (Davis) is a very tough minded kid," Worth said. "He knew we needed a lot of strikes and that they were going to hit him. If our defense was ready to help him out, we'd be in the ball game at the end."
Valley with a 3-1 tourney record and a District Championship advances to the Valley Complex July 21 for the 11-12 state tournament.
"I'm sorry it ended this way for us," manager Knowles said. "I have the utmost respect for Sam (Worth). I'm glad it's him taking these boys into state. I hope they do well and represent Walla Walla well."
Pacific ends with a 2-2 district record.
"Credit to Pacific," Worth said. "They are always well coached and play hard. It's a joy to play them. I hope they are some of the toughest competition we see in the next few weeks."
Valley 7, Pacific 3
Pacific 010 101 - 3 6 5
Valley 100 60X - 7 3 1
Hoeft, Morris (4) and Ortiz, Baumgart (4); Davis and Lemma.
HR - none.
Hits - WWP: Ortiz, Weigand, Knowles, Baumgart, Golden, Hoeft; WWV: Shumate, Davis, James.