Big valley, Big Bats

BELLEVILLE – The Big Valley 11- and 12-year old Little League all-star team rode Ethan Eichhorn’s hot bat and dominant pitching outing en route to a comfortable 12-2 win over visiting Nittany Valley Monday evening in Belleville. The win keeps Big Valley alive in the consolation bracket and ends Nittany Valley’s postseason run.

Eichhorn finished 3-4 with four RBIs and a two-run blast in the fourth inning that helped Big Valley pull away. Marshall Maidens and Levi Wise also went deep for Big Valley.

As good as Eichhorn was at the plate, he was even more impressive on the mound. The right-hander went 2 2/3 innings and only allowed one runner to reach base- Hanna Lauck, who walked in the first. The right-hander struck out five before giving way to relief pitcher Blaine Davis.

As it turned out, Big Valley’s offense, which struggled to come up with hits with runners in scoring position in its District 5 opening round loss on Saturday against Bellefonte, didn’t even need its pitchers to hang many zeroes on the scoreboard. Maidens, the team’s leadoff hitter, got things going early, sending Nittany Valley starting pitcher Dustin Dietrich’s second pitch of the game over the fence. After a quiet remainder of the first inning and a scoreless second, the Big Valley bats came to life in the third. Kaden Milliron and Brady Yoder, the No. 8 and 9 hitters, led the inning off with back-to-back singles to bring up the top of the order with no outs. After a passed ball moved the runners into scoring position, pinch-hitter Trey Kibe smacked a ground-rule double to bring them both home. Colby Bodtorf then hit a seemingly harmless ground ball to second, but the throw to first sailed into the Big Valley dugout, allowing Kibe to trot home. Eichhorn then brought Bodtorf home with an RBI single.

Nittany Valley momentarily got back into the game in the top of the fourth when Sean Reeder blasted a long, two-run homer off Davis, but that was the only offense the visitors could muster all evening. Reeder’s long ball ended up being the only base hit Nittany Valley recorded in the contest, which lasted just over an hour, mostly due to the mastery of Eichhorn and Davis on the mound.

“I thought our pitching was great,” Big Valley manager Gary Eichhorn said. “We threw real well. Ethan threw the ball really well tonight. That’s what we expect out of him, so we were happy.”

Eichhorn smacked his home run and Colby Bodtorf hit an RBI single in a four-run fourth that saw Big Valley begin to run away with this one. As the game headed into the fifth, the only remaining question about the game’s outcome was whether or not Big Valley would go up by 10 and therefore end the game in five innings due to the mercy rule. Wise led things off by hitting a no-doubt-about-it bomb to left center. Brady Yoder walked and advanced to third on a Maidens ground-rule double. Bodtorf lined an RBI single to score Yoder, and Eichhorn fittingly provided the winning hit with a line drive to left that scored Maidens and ended the game.

Big Valley will be back in action Wednesday.