by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Valley Catholic's Alex Hyland jogs in a deciding home run against Amity in the first round of the 3A playoffs.

In the big inning, Valley Catholic said, “let there be runs.”

The Valiants blew open a tightly-contested 1-1 game with a seven-run bottom of the fourth on Friday, May 30, and defeated visiting Blanchet Catholic 8-1 in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state baseball playoffs.

With the win, the Valley Catholic earned a semifinal berth against Glide on Tuesday, June 3.

Pitching with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee? No problem for Valley Catholic senior Carter Buuck. Hitting with a torn ACL? That wasn't an issue either. The standout southpaw hurled five effective innings and also belted a two-run home run in the decisive fourth.

Buuck, who said that Valiants Head Coach Pat Thomas is good about getting him the rest he needs due to the injury, did not allow an earned run, struck out eight and scattered five hits to lead the Valley Catholic (27-1) within a single victory of the state championship game.

“The key to our success is staying loose,” Buuck added. “We’re not trying to rush or press anything. We practice like we’re in the World Series, but play like it’s the game we played as little kids.”

The Valiants quickly got on the board in the bottom of the first when catcher and No. 3 hitter Liam Meagher launched a high fly ball to left for his second homer in as many games.

The Cavaliers (17-6) tied things up with a run in the top half of the third inning before Valley Catholic more or less put the game to bed in the fourth.

The first six Valiants batters reached base before an out was recorded in the inning. Ethan Cape, Liam Walsh and Jacob Pruitt all singled to load the bases before sophomore Alex Hyland continued his hot hitting when he drove a 3-2 pitch up the middle to plate Cape and Walsh.

David Baglai walked and junior Jakob Vincent slipped a ground ball between third base and shortstop. Vincent’s base hit brought in Pruitt and Highland for a 5-1 lead.

Senior Sam Teague added an RBI groundout before Buuck drilled a pitch from Blanchet Catholic starter Mason Fessler high into the trees behind the left-field fence.

“We weren’t too worried,” Cape said about the 1-1 tie halfway through the contest. “If we don’t overthink it and play our game, good things will happen.”

Vincent concurred with his teammate. “I don’t think we were concerned,” he said. “We trust our abilities and we’re a good hitting team.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Valley Catholic's Jakob Pruitt slides safely into first against Amity.

Teague came on for Buuck in the sixth and struck out two in a scoreless frame, and Baglai closed out the Cavaliers from the mound in the seventh.

“They are a good baseball team,” Thomas said of the Cavaliers. “We had some really good approaches at the plate, kind of broke it open and Carter put a nice cap on his game.”

Six of Valley Catholic’s ten hits came in during their rally in the fourth.

The Valiants played some solid defense as well, highlighted by a great sliding catch near the left-center field wall by Chris Rapp to help out Teague in the top of the sixth inning. The freshman covered a lot of ground and probably saved a Blanchet Catholic run from scoring.

“I thought I could maybe get there and was lucky enough to,” Rapp said about his racing grab.

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