Beaver Valley didn’t forget to pack their bats on their trip out from Pennsylvania.
The 13u team exited pool play with the highest run differential and scored 10 runs in their opening game of bracket play, eight more in their second, and knocked off Team Colorado-Altitude Baseball, 7-1, on Saturday in Council Bluffs to secure a spot in the TCSB Division I Championship Series.
“We’ve had pretty tough run the whole year,” said head coach Brian Smith. “We try to play against the best talent in that nation. Coming to the SlumpBuster we knew we were going to get just that.”
Daniel Snyder started the game on the mound for coach Smith and Beaver Valley. Two strikeouts and a fly out made quick work of Team Colorado in the opening inning and sent Beaver Valley to the dish looking for the game’s first run.
After a hit-by-pitch and a double from Gavin Miller, Snyder stepped to the plate and helped himself out with a ground out to shortstop, scoring the go-ahead run. Beaver Valley wouldn’t stop there, however, as Drew Lafferty, Beaver Valley’s version of Paul Bunyan, approached the dish. With his trusty bat, Lafferty axed a frozen rope home run over the left field fence, stretching the early lead out to three.
“I knew they were going to throw me a lot of curveballs,” said Lafferty. “I’ve been hitting pretty well this weekend, so I know that pitchers are going to try to throw off-speed to try to trip me up. If I stay patient, I can have days like I did today.”
Now pitching with a lead, Snyder settled into a groove on mound. Through his five innings of work, Snyder surrendered only two hits and struck out five batters, keeping Team Colorado at comfortable distance the entirety of Saturday afternoon.
“I was very successful with my changeup today,” said Snyder. “Combined with my fastball, I was able to get ahead of batters early in the count. That allowed me to use some two-strike pitches to seal the deal.”
Meanwhile, it was Lafferty who was captaining it all from behind the plate. If any ball breached behind Lafferty, it was only by work of a foul ball.
“Drew is an outstanding defensive player and a tremendous athlete,” said Smith. “What he was able to do at the plate and how he was able to block changeups in the dirt really puts us in a good spot.”
Already with a home run in the first inning, Beaver Valley yearned for more in the second. This time, it was Mitchell Schultz who did the bidding, sending his offering back where it came from, and more, to put his team up by four runs.
The offensive showcase would continue as the game wore on. Lafferty picked up his second home run of the game with a solo shot in the fourth, and Jackson Hower launched the team’s fourth long ball in the sixth. On the day, Lafferty finished 2-3 with three RBI and three runs scored.
“I really like how my team is playing,” said Smith. “I always think that this team has what it takes to get it done on any given day, and this team is no different. I like our chances.”
Smith turned to Gavin Miller in the final two frames to secure the victory for Beaver Valley. Though Miller gave up Colorado’s only run, he was no less powerful than Snyder on the mound. Miller tallied four strikeouts in his two innings, including the games final out, cementing Beaver Valley’s spot in the championship with the win.
“I think we really want to prove how good Pennsylvania baseball can be,” said Snyder. “We’ve come a long way to play the best in the nation, and I think that if we finished off the SlumpBuster with a championship, we’d start to turn some heads.”
Beaver Valley will enjoy a bit of rest and maybe even a look in at the College World Series before matching up Sunday morning against hometown Millard Elite in the TCSB Division I Championship. A best-of-3 games will decide the 2017 champion with the first game slated at 9 a.m. at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.