Walla Walla Valley upends Centralia at state tournament

Walla Walla Valley opens its state tourney with a 14-4 win Sunday, and plays Mill Creek Tuesday.

Walla Walla Valley's Parker Likes runs to third base during their state tournament game against Centralia Sunday.

Walla Walla Valley's Parker Likes runs to third base during their state tournament game against Centralia Sunday. Joe Tierney

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— Walla Walla Valley Majors All-Stars had a long hiatus after defeating Walla Walla Pacific to win the district championship July 6.

Valley coach Sam Worth didn't know what kind of an effect that would have on his squad headed into the Washington state tournament.

But it didn't take him long to find out, as Valley opened its tournament with a 14-4, mercy-rule-shortened victory over Centralia Sunday morning.

"We spent two weeks since district got over waiting for a game," Worth said. "We didn't know if that was going to be good or bad.

"It turned out it was a good thing!"

Valley held a 6-3 lead in the third inning when Andrew Kemp smacked a solo home run for a 7-3 lead.

The local team, hosting the tournament on its Lions Park fields, scored three more runs in the fourth inning to enjoy the 10-3 margin and close in on the 10-run mercy rule.

But Centralia, a 10-4 victor over Burlington in their tourney opener Saturday, showed a little fight in the top of the fifth inning. A walk loaded the bases for Centralia with one out, but Valley got out of the jam, giving up just one run to head to the decisive bottom of the inning up 10-4.

With one out, Valley's Carter Davis doubled to left field, and Parker Likes' fly ball to left-center field was dropped, scoring Davis and setting Likes up at second base.

Connor Lemma then sent a grounder up the middle into center field and Likes tried to score, but a nice throw just got him at the plate.

Turner Edwards was hit in the back, setting him up at first with Lemma on second.

Isaiah Lomeli then smacked it into center field to score Lemma to make it 12-4.

Silas Schumate singled to score Edwards from second and send Lomeli to third. Cody Worden was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, and Diego Cardenas took the bat for a duel with the Centralia pitcher.

Cardenas worked the count full, and then ended the game with a fly to right-center dropped in to score Lomeli.

"It was an extremely solid, 11-player effort today," Worth said. "We got contributions from all our players today. I'm happy, and I'm happy for the guys.

"Our pitchers came in and they were pounding it in there," he said. "They were pretty good.

"We got big hits from guys down the lineup. It was an excellent team effort."

Worth said Valley wasn't fazed by playing at the state tournament level, pointing out that the 10-11-year-olds placed at state last year.

"We thought we'd be able to compete," Worth said. "These guys are close, they're loose, but they focus and get after it.

"When you can be relaxed, you play better and can be better baseball players," he said. "They've got it down to a ‘T.'"

While happy with Sunday's victory, Worth said Valley knows it doesn't get any easier.

"It's our first game and we've got to get ready for tougher competition every game," he said.

Shortly after Valley's win over Centralia, they found out they play Mill Creek at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Mill Creek was an 8-6 winner over Richland National in a game being played while Valley defeated Centralia.

Worth knew what to expect from either foe.

"Both programs are perennially good," he said before finding out Mill Creek had won. "We expect to have to bring our A-plus game, and that's what we expect to do."

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