WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Valley rode its defense into a 1-1 tie with two outs in Mill Creek's fifth inning here Tuesday in Washington State Majors Little League baseball winner's bracket state tournament play.
But then Mill Creek blasted two home runs in a four-run, two-out rally and held on for a 5-2 win.
"We got the ball up late in the game, and that was our only issue," Valley manager Sam Worth said. "They made us pay for it. It was a really cleanly played game. We had good defensive plays on both sides. As a coach, I've got no complaints."
Valley took advantage of one of its three hits and heads-up base running to score first.
Carter Davis led off the game and reached on a Mill Creek error.
Parker Likes singled Davis to second.
Connor Lemma's grounder forced Likes at second, but the throw to first to get Lemma for a double play was in the dirt, and Davis had all he needed as he slid in ahead of Mill Creek first baseman Tyler Elsemore's throw for a 1-0 Valley lead.
After Mill Creek's Tyler Belmont singled to start the home first, Davis, on the hill for Valley, threw a comebacker and Valley turned a Davis-to-Likes-to-Turner Edwards (1-6-3) double play to help Davis throw a scoreless first.
Davis and Mill Creek's starting pitcher, Andrew Columbo, took over from there as both strung goose eggs on the board going to the home fourth.
It wasn't easy for Valley as Mill Creek loaded the bases with one out in its second. Davis got a strikeout and a running basket catch from right fielder Andrew Kemp on a short fly to end the threat and preserve the 1-0 lead.
Mill Creek got even in the fourth as Adam Sullivan and Carter Booth opened with consecutive singles. One out later, Mario Munoz doubled in the tying run, but Valley's relay kept the go-ahead run, Booth, at third.
Mill Creek went for the lead behind a bunt from Elsemore. Davis fielded, and fired to Edwards to retire Elsemore and Edwards' relay to catcher Lemma was in time for Lemma to tag out a sliding Booth and preserve the 1-1 tie.
"That double play we got on the bunt from pitcher-to first-to home was a huge play," Worth said. "They had the runner (Booth) ready to roar. Carter looked him back, stopped him for a second. Turner was dead on with his throw to the plate. My catcher (Lemma) was out in front of the plate right where he needed to be. I was pumped up on that one."
Columbo completed his five innings of work for Mill Creek, giving up only a two-out, third-inning single to Lemma in addition to Likes' hit, by retiring the last seven Valley hitters in a row as Mill Creek opened the home fifth in a 1-1 tie.
Davis got the first two outs, but reached his 65-pitch count and finished his day. Davis left in a 1-1 tie having given up one run on six hits and only walking one.
"Carter gave us everything we asked," Worth said. "We got him through without burning him for the rest of the tournament."
Gavin O'Donnell blasted the go-ahead home run and Booth, with his third hit of the day, climaxed the inning with a three-run shot and Mill Creek led 5-1 after five.
Valley fought back as Isaiah Lomeli singled to right, and Likes, who was hit with a pitch to start the sixth, scored when Mill Creek overthrew the relay, but Valley ran out of outs and left runners at second and third
"We came back and got a run and we were threatening," Worth said. "Mill Creek managed to get by us. I'm just proud of them (Valley)."
Valley faces Woodinville, an 11-8 winner over Burlington-Edison Tuesday, today at 12:30 in an elimination game.
"We're coming back tomorrow (Wednesday)," Worth said. "We're still hoping that we're playing on Saturday. I haven't seen anything from these guys to make me think they're not wanting it."
Mill Creek 5, Walla Walla Valley 2
Valley 100 001 - 1 3 1
Mill Creek 000 14X - 5 9 3
Davis, Shumate (5), Edwards (5) and Lemma; Columbo, Sullivan (6) and Sullivan, O'Donnell (4).
HR - MC: O'Donnell, Booth.
Hits - WWV: Likes, Lemma, Lomeli; MC: Belmont, Sullivan 2, Booth 3, Munoz, O'Donnell, Haugen.