Friday, July 19, 2024

Baseball: Spring Valley routs Ottawa to win Senior League district title

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OGLESBY – Looking for a return trip to the Senior League Baseball Central Region Tournament, Spring Valley grabbed the momentum early and never looked back.

Spring Valley struck for six runs in the top of the first inning and rolled to a 13-0, five-inning victory over Ottawa on Sunday at Dickinson Field.

“It started with the top of the first inning,” Spring Valley coach Ryan Ferrari said. “We came out and the bats were hot. We barreled a lot of balls off Jack Carroll, who I’ve seen throw numerous times and he’s a great pitcher. We got to him early, built up his pitch count and got him out of the game. Hats off to our guys just hitting the ball hard time and time again and making them make plays.”

Spring Valley advances to the region tournament in Peru, which begins with opening ceremonies Friday before games get underway Saturday.

“I’ve coached a lot of these guys since they were 8 years old and a few others came on in the last couple years,” Ferrari said. “We were here last year and we won district. We ended up coming up short at Central States and we wanted a chance at it again, so we put a good team together and we’re going to have our shot to come back and get revenge hopefully.”

Spring Valley got off to a strong start Sunday as leadoff hitter Johnathon Stunkel singled to start the game.

After a groundout, Layten Gerdes singled to bring home the first run of the game.

Logan Philhower doubled, Kade Zimmerlein reached on an error that plated two runs and Stunkel capped the big inning with a two-run single to center in his second at-bat of the frame.

“I think it gave us a lot of confidence at the plate and in the field,” Stunkel said about the big first inning. “It let us relax and just play the game how it’s supposed to be played.”

Six runs were more than enough for Spring Valley starting pitcher Logan Philhower.

Philhower gave up a leadoff single to Carroll but only allowed one more hit.

He struck out seven batters and walked one in four scoreless innings. Stunkel tossed a perfect fifth to close out the game.

“I threw a bunch of strikes and tried to get ahead of hitters and that helped a lot,” Philhower said. “My fastball today was going past a lot of hitters, so that helped a lot.”

While the Spring Valley pitchers shut down Ottawa, the offense kept tacking on runs.

Spring Valley scored four runs in the third inning, two in the fourth and one in the fifth.

Stunkel finished 4 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs and Philhower went 3 for 3 with a double and two runs for Spring Valley, which beat Ottawa 9-8 and La Salle-Peru-Oglesby 10-0 on Saturday.

Carroll and Dane Carretto each had a single for Ottawa, which advanced to the title game with a 9-1 win over La Salle-Peru-Oglesby earlier Sunday.

Against LPO, Brayden Fusch and Carter Price each had two hits. Fusch scored two runs and drove in a run. Kayden Kundert hit a two-run homer.

“We came out this morning and we played really well,” Ottawa coach Connor Soenksen said. “We hit well and defensively we were sharp. The second game we kind of fell off quick, but kudos to (Spring Valley). That’s a great group. They hit the ball very well. Their pitchers pitched well. Losing like that always stinks. You want to at least make them sweat and play a good game, but sometimes in baseball that’s the way it works, you don’t perform your best.

“They’re a good team. We tip our hats. Hopefully they’ll make a run and do the district proud next weekend (in the region tournament).”

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