Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Behind a masterful pitching performance from George Arnett, the Valley Indians are traveling back to Lucasville with a district trophy in hand.
Arnett’s Indians (18-11) took advantage of six errors while pounding out seven hits in a 7-1 win over Huntington in a Division IV district final at VA Memorial Stadium.
In seven innings of work, Arnett surrendered an earned run on six hits and struck out seven Huntsmen.
“George is so consistent and he’s wise beyond his years,” Valley coach Nolan Crabtree said. “He mixes his pitches, he locates and he does what he wants to do. And, most importantly, he doesn’t get rattled. When he gets into situations, he has the confidence to pitch his way out of it. He’s done a phenomenal job all year long.”
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Hunter Edwards knocked in Andrew Andronis, who tripled to begin the inning.
Valley then added two runs in the third when Carter Nickel and Christopher Queen scored on a fielding error. Edwards then knocked in Andronis once more, making it a 4-0 lead.
In the third, the scoring snowstorm became an avalanche.
Blake Wood logged an RBI single before Nickel and Queen each scored on yet another fielding error, pushing the lead to 6-0. Edwards then knocked in his third run of the game, making it a 7-0 lead.
“I’d say only one or two of [Huntington’s] errors were on extremely routine plays,” Crabtree said. “The other times, we had good at-bats, we hit the ball hard and we forced them to make plays. That’s the name of the game in high school ball. If you can apply pressure, you find out what’s going to happen. That was big for us. I give [Huntington] coach [Ed] Yates a ton of credit for battling short-handed. You want to talk about pressure? I felt a ton to be prepared to play against him and his kids. He does a phenomenal job.”
Huntington (14-13) finally scratched out a run in the top of the fourth when Dalton Black logged a sacrifice fly to score Emery Woods.
But that was the only run the Huntsmen’ offense could muster against an efficient Arnett and an errorless defense behind him.
“I’m proud of our defense. Lord have mercy,” Crabtree said. “Andrew Andronis at shortstop, just making gold glove plays out there, and we ran the balls down in the outfield. If we keep playing defense and pitching like that, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Woods, DJ Crocker, Gavin Free and Caleb Smith each had a base hit for the Huntsmen while Braylon Leach was 2-for-3.
Valley will now meet with either Paint Valley or Reedsville Eastern in a Division IV regional semifinal at 2 p.m., June 3 at Lancaster’s Beavers Field.
“We’re going to have to battle this time off. We’re used to playing every day,” Crabtree said. “That’s going to be the big thing. The kids are out of school now, so that’s a lot of free time. We’re going to give them a few days to enjoy this. But then, we’re going to put a schedule together, come back and prepare like we have all year long.”
NOTE: SOSA will have a full photo gallery from the Indians’ district title win, later this evening.