Valle's rally in 7th beats Royals

Thursday, May 24, 2012

STE. GENEVIEVE -- An out away from a trip to the state final four, the Twin Rivers Royals saw their season end Wednesday.

The Royals were ahead four runs going into the bottom of the seventh and ahead a run with two outs before Valle Catholic rallied for a 7-6 win in the MSHSAA Class 2 quarterfinals.

"You have to hand it to them, they just gutted it out and found a way to win," Twin Rivers coach Nathan Walk said. "Baseball is like that, a lot of those balls were not hard hit, they were just hit in the right spots."

Valle, the 2009 champ who lost a 1-run game in last year's quarterfinal, trailed Twin Rivers by as much as five.

"It would have been really easy for us to hang our heads after we got down," Valle Catholic coach Judd Naeger said. "I am just really, really proud of them."

The Royals (17-12) season ended after four straight wins and on the doorstep of the team's first appearance in the final four since 1995 when Twin Rivers placed third.

"I am so proud of this group," Walk said. "With all the turmoil that has happened this year, they could have laid down and chalked this season up to a lost cause.

"But they fought the whole way through."

Ryan Nippe led Twin Rivers with three RBIs while Kaleb Doyle drove in a pair.

Bryant Vessell had a pair of RBIs, including the game winner, while Tyler Litterest had three RBIs for the Warriors, who will face Summit Christian Academy at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Springfield.

Valle (22-4) trailed 6-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh.

Alec Greminger started the rally with a single over the second baseman's glove before Justin Roth singled. After Thomas Hermann singled to load the bases, Alex Rollhaus hit into a fielder's choice which allowed Greminger to score to make it 6-3.

Litterest then hit a triple to the left-field gap that scored two runs.

After a groundout to Nippe on the mound for the second out, Linc Stoll singled on a weak ground ball to third base which allowed Litterest to score to tie the game.

"They never quit," Walk said.

After a single from Nolan Wood, Vessell singled back through the middle which scored Stoll to give the Warriors the dramatic win.

"We told them right before the inning started that every singe one of them had a big hit left in them," Naeger said.

Naeger said his players hit better against Nippe, who replaced starter Blake Moore.

"Hitting is contagious, our guys like it when (the ball) is coming a little bit harder," Naeger said. "When we get in the cage, we are getting in there and throwing the ball harder.

"They don't have time to think then."

Nippe took the loss as he gave up six runs in 1 2/3 innings.

"He is coming back off short rest, he had three innings and coming in I thought he could gut it out and get it done," Walk said. "He made good pitches, it was a case of good pitching but better hitting.

"We were working the outside corner and they adjusted and started going the other way."

After throwing seven innings in the win Monday over Greenville, Nippe had three innings for Wednesday.

"It seems like the fifth, sixth and seventh inning (Moore) kind of waivers," Walk said. "I didn't want to get to the point where they had guys in scoring position or they had bases loaded with no one out and we have to throw Ryan in there.

"That is a pressure packed situation, I had complete confidence in Ryan."

Moore got a no decision as he threw five innings and gave up four hits and struck out three.

"Blake did an awesome job," Walk said. "That is one of those deals where you kick your own butt if you leave him in there if he gets rocked or if you take him out and Ryan gets rocked, you are danged if you do and danged if you don't.

"(Moore) kept them off-balance."

The Royals started the scoring in the first inning as Chris Morse singled to start the game before scoring on a Nippe single.

In the second, Moore reached on a dropped-third strike and after an error, Morse singled on a bunt to load the bases. Cade Lowe walked to score courtesy-runner Nate Watson to make it 2-0 and Doyle singled to right field to score Joe Foster. Nippe then singled back through the middle to score two more runs to make it 5-0.

"We got to him early and it kind of rattled him there," Walk said. "Once (their starter Rollhaus) settled in, he started working down in the zone.

"That is what you have to do to be successful."

Valle got a run in the bottom of the second to get within 5-1 but the Royals responded with a run in the top of the third to take a 6-1 lead.

The Warriors added another run in the bottom of the sixth on a solo home run from Litterest before erupting in the seventh.

"Any time you get up over four runs, you are sitting pretty good," Walk said. "I knew you are not going to hold a quarterfinal team to two runs, it is just not going to happen."

The Royals got just two hits in the final four frames off Rollhaus.

"He made good pitches and kept us off-balance there in the second half of the game," Walk said. "We couldn't scratch any more across."

Rollhaus finished with nine strikeouts and two walks.

"He didn't pitch great, we didn't really field the ball behind him great," Naeger said. "But he competed he kept trying to get better and kept trying to find it.

"He pitched good enough for us to win."

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