The Pleasant Valley baseball team has been waiting for something like this to happen all season.
Although the Spartans have put together some solid consecutive offensive innings during the season, it did not measure up to what PV did to Davenport West in the opening game of Monday night's Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader.
In the first two innings of Game 1, the Spartans batted around in each inning, blasted out 11 hits and 12 runs to jump all over the Falcons en route to a 12-0 victory in five innings. While the offense cooled off in Game 2, senior Max Slavens picked up the slack, tossing a five-hit shutout to complete the sweep with a 3-0 win.
Pleasant Valley (14-4 MAC, 18-10 overall) was picked to finish in the middle of the conference pack but will finish in second place after Davenport Assumption clinched the outright MAC title against Clinton.
While missing out on the title, if the Spartans hit like they did in Game 1, they will be a force to reckon with when the playoffs begin in 10 days. In the two-inning barrage, PV had eight base hits, a double, a triple and two home runs.
Senior Ely Adams had the big blow with a monster, three-run shot in the first inning that put the hosts up 5-0 after RBI singles from Peyton Lindmark and Slavens. Ryan Mumey followed up Adams' homer with a solo shot of his own to make it 6-0 after the first.
In the second, Jose Lara had an RBI triple, followed by an RBI double from Barrett Lindmark to push it to 8-0. Adams added his fourth RBI of the game with a single while teammates Kyle McDermott, Jack Young and Eric Clifton also chipped in RBI hits later in the inning to leave West (7-10, 16-15) in a 12-run hole.
Adams said he has not seen that kind of offensive outburst from the team yet this season.
"We had a couple of games where if one guy got a hit then the next two guys got hits but nothing quite like that," he said. "We have struggled, at times offensively, all season but our defense and pitching has helped us overcome that. But, yes, that was the best offensive run of the season. Let's hope it continues."
Adams admitted that he has struggled along with his teammates offensively but said extra work has helped him stay on the pitch longer than usual. It resulted in the long home run to left-centerfield.
"I was not really watching the ball all the way in but it clicked in the batting cage just recently," Adams said. "I was forcing myself to watch the ball all the way in and that worked."
With such a big lead, Young worked in a relaxed environment to pick up the victory in Game 1, allowing only one hit in the five innings. But Spartans coach Derek Stecklein said it was the offense that has him excited for what is to come.
"That kind of effort is sort of what we expected to do coming into this year," he said. "That is what we are capable of and for, like the last week and a half, we've been hitting the baseball really hard and starting to score some runs. We were building up and 'boom', it happened tonight. We did a good job of attacking early and it worked out well."
Pleasant Valley picked up three quick runs in the first inning of Game 2 and Slavens took it from there. Slavens used a solid breaking ball and location to keep the Falcons in check. He scattered the five hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter. Barrett Lindmark and Caden Kipper had RBI singles and PV got another run on a West error.
Once again for West, sophomore Garet Gustaf did a nice job in relief pitching for the Falcons. Gustaf worked the last 2 2/3 innings of Game 1 to help save some arms by not allowing any more damage. Leo DeLaPaz worked six innings in the second game and only allowed the one earned run. DeLaPaz walked just one in his start and struck out two. DeLaPaz also had the only multi-hit game for West in either game, with two singles in Game 2.
Falcons coach Scott Beatty gave credit to PV for jumping on his team and setting the tone on the Spartans' senior night.
"You have to take your hat off to PV, they squared up on the baseball, they identified the pitch and hit really well," Beatty said. "They have some good seniors on that club. What we have to do is go back and work on (pitching) location, getting down with the ball. Pleasant Valley was really motivated on senior night and it showed."