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Stilly Valley Trojans suffer first loss in Tournament of Champions
ARLINGTON — The Stilly Valley Trojans experienced something they hadn’t on a baseball field this season: a loss.
In the Tournament of Champions, the Trojans were bested by Granite Falls, 2-1, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the title game.
“The tough part is we had these guys’ number twice this season,” said Trojans manager Bobby Collins. “But, oh well, we get to play more baseball.”
The loss didn’t knock the Trojans out of the bracket, although they have a more difficult time now, needing to win three straight to claim the title.
Normally a team with offense to spare, Stilly Valley was held to just a run, which came by way of a home run from Ryan Walker.
“We’ve been 10-running guys,” Collins said. “We’ve put up 35 runs in a game this season, but when we really need one, we can’ beg, borrow or steal it.”
Walker also put on a show as a pitcher during the third inning with the bases loaded and a full count. He proceeded to strike out nine of Granite Falls’ final 10 batters during the game.
“He’s a stud,” Collins said of Walker. “He’s like a man among boys out there. He’s got a monster curve and a slider to go with his fastball. Guys don’t even know what it is because they’ve never seen a pitch like that — and they probably won’t until high school.”
But a team that goes 19-1 has more than just one player, as Collins mentioned the pitching and hitting of catcher Josh Schempp and Jacob Crain as being instrumental to the team’s success.
Although Granite Falls kept the Trojans’ bats quiet during this game, another hitter who was steady at the plate was leadoff man Peter Chung, who sprayed a double in the second inning.
The other members of the team include Bryce Thomas, Chase Milles, Michael Pedor, Austin Caunter, Ross Erickson, Brady Moe, Sage Thomas, Nate Powell, Bret Hilker and Andrew Stich.