SPRING VALLEY — When it got cold outside, the Princeton Tigers turned up the heat on longtime rival Spring Valley Hall Monday at Kirby Park in Spring Valley.
The Tigers scored five runs in the fifth inning, using an aggressive brand of baseball to score a 6-3 victory. PHS rallied with a bunt hit, a double, two stolen bases, back-to-back sacrifice flies, and scored in a rundown, all in the fifth inning.
“We have changed our attitude on the field, and we just want to go after a win every game,” PHS coach Tim Taylor said.
“It’s nice to see our boys keeping the pressure on the other team and putting it on the other team as opposed to on themselves.”
“I told our boys that we are the fastest team we're going to see all year. We are fast, fast, fast, so they’ve built that confidence in themselves and are taking those bases when they can get them.”
They took a lot of bases in the fifth with some help from Hall. With the scored tied at 1, Dylan Schaefer led off the Tigers' fifth with a walk, stole second and took third on a wild pitch.
He scored on leadoff man J.J. Vaccaro's bounder through the right side.
Vaccaro moved up on a wild pitch and took third on Isaiah Taylor's bunt single. Taylor swiped second before Vaccaro trotted home to make it 3-1 when Hall hurler Austin Schmitt bounced in another wild pitch. Schmitt walked Tiger starter Matt Hayes. Tigers Nick Rolando and Tyler Marvin then tagged Hall reliever Taggert Venegas for sac flies to make it 5-1.
Tiger catcher Logan Wilde stroked a long double, took third on the third wild pitch of the inning. Austin Schindel drew a walk, but was then caught off first base by Venegas. Schindel stayed in the rundown long enough, however, to allow Wilde to score from third to extend the Tigers' lead to 6-1.
"(It was) some stuff we’ve been able to stay away from in the first three games," Hall coach Tom Keegan said of the events that led to PHS' big inning. Not an ideal situation by any means. It got away from us there in that inning. Credit them. We've got some things to shore up for sure."
Rolando took over on the mound for Hayes in the fifth inning and fanned the first two Red Devils he faced. He walked the third, Petey Mautino, who would score on a Tiger throwing error.
Rolando pitched put of two more jams to get the save. He walked the bases full of Red Devils in the sixth, only to fan Brett Fanning and Miguel Villareal.
Hall scored in the seventh on a double by Zach Urbanski to close within 6-3 and used a walk by Ian Treiver and a single by Venegas to load the bases. Rolando caught Nolasco looking to end the game.
The Red Devils had their opportunities, but stranded 14 men on base. “We just had too many guys left on base,” Keegan said. “Even just the inability to even put it in play to force the issue when bases are loaded or runners are in scoring position. That’s something that’s going to have to change over the course of the year if we want to establish ourselves as a reputable team in the area.”
Hayes picked up the win, scattering two hits and four walks while striking out two in four innings. Rolando notched the save, striking out six while walking five over the final three innings. Schmitt was charged with the defeat, facing four batters in the fifth.
Hayes ripped a liner off the lower leg of Mautino, ricocheting into the outfield for a base hit to drive in Vaccaro to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Hall tied the game in the fourth on a RBI hit by Trevier.
Notes: The Tigers (1-2) remain idle until hosting Dixon on Friday. Hall traveled to Seneca Wednesday and will hit the road again Thursday to Earlville.