PINE GROVE – If last night's District 11 Class A semifinal between Marian and Williams Valley needed an advertising slogan, "It's Miller Time" would probably be a suitable choice.
No, Miller Brewing Company had no part in any kind of sponsorship deals at Pine Grove's Stump Stadium.
Rather, it was Williams Valley's Codie Miller that trademarked an 8-3 victory over the Colts, which sends the Vikings (18-4) to next Tuesday's District 11 Class A Championship game against Tri-Valley at Coca Cola Park in Allentown (which bares the naming rights of another famous beverage company).
Miller came up big at the plate and in the field, as the senior center fielder reached base in all four of his plate appearances, recording three hits and five RBI.
Miller entered the game batting .379 with only two extra base hits and 14 RBI all season, but his two-run triple in the first, his RBI double in the third and his two-run double in the sixth was all Williams Valley needed.
"He was voted 'unsung hero' by the team during the season, but he was so much more than that tonight. He was MVP in my book out there," stated Williams Valley head coach Don Matter. "Every time he came to the plate, he got on base. He got us on the scoreboard in the first inning, he gave us the lead in the third inning and he pretty much put the game away in the sixth inning. I can't say enough good things about Codie tonight."
After two walks and a fielding error put runners on second and third base with two outs in the opening frame, Miller ripped a two-out two-run triple into the center field gap. As the ball rolled to the wall, Brendan Miller and Owen Daniel scored to make the score 2-0.
However, the Colts would tie the game up by plating a run in each of the second and third innings. A Nick Kweder sacrifice fly scored Austin Paisley, and KJ Snerr came home on a throwing error by the Williams Valley catcher to knot the game at 2-2. Marian potentially could have scored more runs in the third inning, but Codie Miller flashed his glove by robbing Frank Nietz of a hit with a sprawling diving catch in center field to lead off the third inning.
Miller than showcased his bat in the bottom of the frame with a two-out double to left which scored Owen Daniel. Travis Graff then raced home on a throwing error on the play. Miller than came around to score as Marian pitcher Luke Stawick walked the next three batters to extend the Williams Valley lead to 5-2.
"I never had a big game like this before, so it was just nice to be able to help the team out," said Miller. "I had a hot bat throughout the night and it's a great feeling knowing that I helped play a part in getting the team to the District Championship game against Tri-Valley, just like in football."
Williams Valley and Tri-Valley will also be playing next week for the District 11 Class A softball championship as well.
Marian threatened to cut into the lead in the top of the fifth inning when Frank Nietz reached on a fielding error and KJ Snerr singled to center. On the play, Miller fired the ball into the cut off man and Nietz was gunned down at the plate.
After a Dennis Jansen single to left scored Jarred Matter, Miller finished off the scoring with his third big two-out hit of the night when his single to center field scored Travis Crider and Jansen to increase the lead to 8-2.
"Codie had a heckuva game tonight and he made plays all over the field," stated Marian head coach Jeff Nietz. "When you look at Williams Valley's roster, you wouldn't think he'd be one of the players to hurt you, but he did all of the damage tonight, he really did."
For the second game in a row, walks continued to plague the Colts. After walking seven batters in Wednesday's quarterfinal against Schuylkill Haven, Marian issued eight more walks tonight.
The Colts got three straight infield singles in the top of the seventh inning and KJ Snerr closed out the scoring when he scored on a throwing error.
"Mental mistakes really hurt us tonight. We made a base running mistake in the first inning and we had a coverage mistake in the third inning, and you can't do that against a team like Williams Valley," added Nietz. "The mistakes began to snowball, we walked too many batters, and things just started falling apart."
KJ Snerr had three hits for Marian (13-9), Peter Baddick had two hits and Frank Nietz recorded three stolen bases. The Colts end their season with 109 stolen bases.
In the first semifinal game of the night, Tri-Valley defeated Moravian Acadmey 10-0 in five innings.
Marian 011 000 1 - 3 8 3
Williams Valley 203 003 x - 8 7 3
Stawick, Kweder (6) and Snerr; Daniel and Daub. W - Daniel. L - Stawick.