CONYNGHAM - The Tamaqua Blue 9-10 baseball team had a rough night on Thursday evening and that's putting it mildly. The BLUE lost game one of their best of three series for the District 18 Championship by a score of 21-3 to Valley West.
Tamaqua didn't want to go quietly into the night on Friday and it most certainly made a lot of noise before dropping a 12-11 decision to Valley West with the latter moving on to the state tournament.
This contest had the makings of a heavyweight slug fest from the get go with Tamaqua coming out strong in the top of the first scoring five runs.
The Raiders made Valley ace Corey Zientek battle through every pitch, forcing him to throw him to throw 43 pitches in the first alone. Zientek wouldn't even finish the first and the Raiders looked primed to avenge their 18-run loss the night prior.
Like most good teams do however, Valley West came back with a little fire power of their own scoring six runs in the bottom of the first to set the table for what was sure to be a back and forth affair.
"We really weren't that worried going down five runs that early," said Valley West coach Bob Bartel. "That being said you never want to start off a game down five, but this team can hit and we as coaches believe in these kids. Like they have been all year long they just focused and came through."
Tamaqua then came back in the second to tack on three more runs only to be matched once again by Valley West, which scored two runs to knot the ball game up at eight a piece.
"It was one of those back and forth games," said Tamaqua coach Ed Titus. "We knew that last night was a fluke game for us and we just dug ourselves such a deep hole that it was next to impossible to get out. Tonight we never gave up and gave them everything they could handle."
Tamaqua took advantage of three walks in the fourth to grab a 10-8 advantage, but it was Valley West that took command in the fifth, scoring four runs.
Gavin McGowan, who also came into to close the ball game for Valley hit a two-run double and Zientek also had an RBI in the inning to help secure the lead.
Tamaqua gave everything they had in the top of the sixth and actually had a chance to tie the ball game.
Mike Minchhoff hit a screamer down the line with two outs that scored Joe Minehan all the way from first with Minchhoff stretching the play to third. Carson Barron had a chance to bring home Minchhoff and hit the ball hard to the second baseman, but was thrown out at first. Barron nearly beat the play, but Valley West got the out and the D-18 Championship.
"These kids have been great all season we just really believe in them," said Bartel. "I think they're starting to believe in what were telling them as well so we're just becoming a better team. We also got to tip our hat to Tamaqua. We knew that they were a good team and they were going to come out and play hard tonight and that's what they did."
Chris Catoff also helped Valley West get the win with two RBIs.
For Tamaqua, Minchhoff had two RBIs, Vanbuskirk had two RBIs, and both Adam Rex and Dante Agosti had an RBI each.
Tamaqua 530 201 – 11 6 4
Valley West 620 004 – 12 9 3
Minchhoff, Rex (4), and Titus; Zientek, Book (1), LaBuda (4), McGowan (6), and Stefanick. W – LaBuda L – Rex.