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Onaga Advances to State After Comeback Win Over Valley Falls
By Jared Sleppy
Copyright: MSC Sports
05/18/2023

Onaga’s run to a regional championship and a state tournament appearance on Tuesday afternoon started with an 11-1 victory in five innings over Jackson Heights in the regional semifinals.

Semifinal #1: Onaga 11, Jackson Heights 1

The Buffaloes surrendered a first inning run thanks to an RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of the Cobras’ sophomore shortstop Titus Eisenbarth.

That momentum would come to a screeching halt after starting pitcher Jude Williams was ejected in the inning after the home plate umpire said that he didn’t slide soon enough at home, putting catcher JW Moore in danger. However, Moore applied the tag a few feet up the base path and not directly at home plate making this a tough call.

Onaga responded with seven runs in the bottom of the first with senior second baseman Jeramia Dorsey hitting a grand slam to start the scoring. Senior right fielder Colby Fordham hit a two-run home run two at bats later. Starting pitcher Colby Simkins got an RBI walk for the final run of the inning.

Another controversial ejection came in the third inning when Cobra freshman left fielder Drake Mellies collided with Onaga first baseman Rayce Fisher at first base. Fisher was forced to stand on top of the bag and lean back after the throw from shortstop Jackson Kolterman was high.

Because of this, Mellies had the right to collide with Fisher since he was in his way. The only way Mellies wasn’t going to collide with Fisher is if he didn’t touch first base entirely, but the first base umpire ejected him anyway.

Onaga got four more runs to win the game in the fifth inning via run rule. Simkins got another RBI this time on a single. Sophomore center fielder LJ Koelzer brought in another run on a sac fly. Dorsey scored on a defensive error and the game-clinching run came on an RBI single from junior catcher Hunter Lamond.

Simkins was brilliant on the mound after the first inning. He went the distance and in five innings he gave up just one run, one walk and two hits while striking out seven.

Semifinal #2: Valley Falls 5, Troy 4

In the second semifinal, the Dragons got the scoring started with senior designated hitter Nick Dodd hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning.

Troy was able to respond with two runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead thanks to a solo home run from senior first baseman Reagan Hartman and an RBI groundout from senior third baseman Boden Benitz.

That lead wouldn’t last long, however, because Valley Falls scored two runs to take the lead back. Freshman center fielder Grant Meyer brought home the first run with an RBI single and sophomore starting pitcher Hayden Kearney got an RBI groundout.

After not giving up any runs in the top of the fifth, the Dragons got two more runs to go up 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore left fielder Myles Reich and freshman second baseman AJ Reeves both hit RBI singles.

Troy tried to muster up a comeback with a two-run home run from Benitz sparking up some momentum. However, Kearney was able to hold on to the lead and get Valley Falls to the championship.

Championship: Onaga 8, Valley Falls 5

In the championship game, Valley Falls was looking for some revenge after Onaga had blown them out in both of their regular season meetings.

They struck first blood with an RBI single from freshman right fielder Carter Pickerell which was the fourth of four consecutive singles for the Dragons. However, that lone run would be all they would get despite having the bases loaded with one out.

The Buffaloes were able to tie the game back up in the bottom of the first with an RBI groundout by Koelzer.

Offenses were at an impasse for the next three innings until Valley Falls junior starting pitcher Zac Evans and senior third baseman Dylan Cervantez hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth to produce three runs to give them a 4-1 lead.

That breathing room dissipated quickly, though, when Onaga got back within a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to make it 4-3. Koelzer grounded out but drove in a run and Dorsey brought in another run with a single.

Onaga’s comeback was complete when Kolterman hit a two-run blast to straightaway center field to go up 5-4. The game continued to spiral out of control from there as the Buffaloes added three more runs to their total.

Valley Falls tried to make a comeback of their own and got one run in the seventh, but that would be all they would get and the Buffaloes punched their ticket to state.

They enter the Class 2-1A state tournament in Grent Bend with a record of 18-3. That will begin next Thursday, May 25th and conclude on the 26th.


©2024 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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