Bear River outlasts Grass Valley 9-10s
Tom Harris says he won’t be one bit surprised to see Grass Valley’s 9-10 All Star team standing in the dugout opposite of his Bear River squad in Saturday’s championship game at Penn Valley.
For that showdown to become a reality, Grass Valley will have to come back through the consolation bracket after falling to Bear River 14-12 Wednesday at Western Gateway Park.
But considering the comebacks he saw out of Grass Valley in the game, Harris said he won’t be shocked if Wednesday’s matchup was not the last between these two teams.
“No, not all,” Harris said. “This is my first experience in terms of the All Stars, but these are the best kids playing out here. That showed with Grass Valley. They hit a ton and we had to hit a ton, too, otherwise we wouldn’t have kept up with them.”
For most of the game, Grass Valley was trying to keep pace with Harris’ club. After taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Bear River broke things open at 6-0 in the top of the second thanks largely to a two-run double from John Magni and an RBI single from James Harris.
But Grass Valley bounced back in the bottom half.
Sammy Dardick drew a bases-loaded walk from Bear River’s Garrat Johnson and another run scored on a wild pitch to put Grass Valley on the board at 6-2. Josiah Paye then drilled a two-run double to the foot of the center-field fence for a 6-4 score. Richie Osborne then tomahawked a line drive to right-center for an RBI double and a 6-5 count.
“You don’t give up Grass Valley!” shouted third-base coach Josh Dardick to his dugout just after the rally, “You don’t ever give up!”
Bear River tested that theory right away in the top of the third, taking a 10-5 lead after Johnson drove one run across with a single and Nick Viola doubled home another. Bear River’s other two runs in the frame came off a passed ball and a Grass Valley error.
That lead had stretched to 13-6 heading into the bottom of the fourth, after Viola doubled two more runs home.
Yet again, Grass Valley answered.
After Viola, who came on in relief of Johnson in the bottom of the third, struck out three of the first four batters he faced, Grass Valley dug back in with three runs for a 13-9 score after four. Two of those runs crossed on a two-run double by Cody Gardner.
“These kids never give in,” said Grass Valley assistant coach Richard Osborne. “With this group of kids, ‘giving up’ is not in their vocabulary. I don’t think they had their heads down even once.”
That Grass Valley group made believers out of Bear River’s coaching staff, including Harris who told his team it needed some insurance runs in the final inning despite holding a 14-10 lead.
Grass Valley, as Harris predicted, proved it was game once again, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth, including one off a Caden Maves double down the right-field line with two outs, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.
Viola though then picked up a strikeout to end the threat and the game.
“Grass Valley is one heck of a team,” Harris said. “They’ve got good pitching and good hitting. I know that Sierra Foothills played them tough before, but I wouldn’t be surprised to seem them Saturday, too.
“Whoever comes out of the loser’s bracket, certainly won’t be a loser. It will be a good team.”
Grass Valley manager Len Gardner said he’s confident that his club can, in fact, come back through the consolation bracket.
“We’re counting on it,” he said. “At this point, we’re accepting nothing less. Our kids want to play and we want to play.”
Grass Valley returns to action Friday, facing the winner of today’s 5 p.m. consolation game between Penn Valley and Sierra Foothills.
Bear River awaits the consolation bracket winner and must be beaten twice in the championship round to be kept from the District 11, Area 2 championship.
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