Valley rides Teague, big third inning to ninth straight win

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic infielder Jacob Vincent squares up a pitch in the third inning against Corbett.

The unanimous top team in 3A is making believers out of even the most dubious doubters right now.

Bashing the baseball from the batters' box and pitching persuasively on the hill, Valley Catholic broke open a 1-0 game against Corbett with 10 runs in the third inning for their ninth straight win of the season, 15-1 on Friday.

Fat and happy these Valiants are definitely not. Despite being the apple of every 3A coach's eye with each first-place vote leaning toward Valley, the Valiants are out to verify their talent and dependability.

“We take each game the exact same way no matter who we're playing,” said junior catcher Clay Kemper. “We like to earn out No. 1 spot. We don't like to think 'Hey we're No. 1, we can come in here and get a win'. We want to prove we're No. 1 and do that with our aggressive play. We love the attitude and mentality we're bringing to the game. We just want to keep it going.”

“We're showing we can bear down, focus and play a great game when we need to,” said starting pitcher Sam Teague. “We know can come out here every time and play our best.”

“You want all the teams to respect you,” added junior infielder Jacob Vincent. “We want to earn that spot and not have it given to us. I think we've established ourselves.”

Valley emphatically confirmed itself in the third, after baking balls at Corbett in the first two innings, only to have them caught by the Cardinals. Teague led off the inning with a single and scored on a Carter Buuck RBI single to left. Two Corbett errors — caused by the Valiants making forceful contact at the dish and getting the ball on the moistureless infield grass — plated a trio of runs, and a Vincent RBI single drove in Liam Walsh to go up 6-0.

“We wanted to put good swings on the ball, and hit the ball as hard as we can every single time,” said Teague. “The first two innings we crushed the ball, but it was at somebody. So, our mentality was to keep the same approach and hit the ball hard. (The ball) started to find holes and the runs started to come in.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic shortstop Alex Hyland fields a ball on the infield dirt against Corbett during the Valiants 11-1 Lewis and Clark League win on Thursday.

Batting around in the order after a double by Alex Hyland, Teague tattooed a two-out single to center that scored a pair of runs. Buuck followed with another RBI to right, then Liam Meagher mauled a fastball to the deepest part of centerfield for a triple that scored Buuck. Ethan Cape's RBI base hit was Valley's fifth run with two outs and capped the 10-run avalanche that sank Corbett.

“We wanted to see a pitch and go for it,” said Kemper. “We wanted to hit it hard somewhere. The field was hard and fast because it dried out from the heat. We knew if we put the ball on the ground good things were going to happen. We were on the sticks pretty much the whole game. Today, we got to them pretty quick.”

“Having an inning like that where we battle back puts us in a good place,” added Vincent. “We just put the ball in play and good things happen. It's really nice to get everybody involved and pound a team like that.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior pitcher Sam Teague struck out eight Corbett Cardinals in just four innings on Thursday. The Valiants rolled to an 11-1 win.

Teague was terrific in four innings on the hill, allowing just four balls to be put in play while striking out 10 and walking only two.

“I was feeling on top of my game today,” said Teague. “I was pumping it. My off-speed was working really well. And the few balls they put in play, we made plays on. Every part of our game was good.”

Pitching for the first time in his high school career this season, the left-handed Teague works at a whirlwind pace that emulates both his speed in the outfield and on the base paths. There's very little, if any, delay between the time Kemper throws the ball back to Teague on the bump and the Samford signee isn't slinging it straight back to the dish. Teague gets the sign from Kemper, nods, and goes. And, when he's rolling like was against Corbett, innings tend to rush on by in the blink of an eye, like watching a game of catch on fast forward.

“My whole game is trying to be fast,” said Teague. “I've just kind of taken the mindset to the mound. If you can get in a groove and start working really quickly then it'll be tough for other guys to catch up. It makes them play at your pace and not get slowed down.”

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