D-11 BASEBALL: Tri-Valley advances to Class AA title game

PINE GROVE — It didn’t take long for Tri-Valley’s Braeden Doyle to experience the pressure of the District 11 Baseball Tournament — or to overcome that tension.

Forcing Palisades to leave the bases loaded not just in the first inning, but also in the third, Doyle helped the Bulldogs into a spot in the District 11 Class AA championship game as Tri-Valley beat Palisades 11-1 in six innings Sunday at Walter Stump Stadium.

Tri-Valley will face a familiar foe, Minersville, an 8-1 winner over top-seeded Schuylkill Haven on Sunday, in the championship game Wednesday at a time and site to be announced.

“Playing with no errors. That’s going to be very important,” Tri-Valley head coach Brent Smith said about the matchup with the Battlin’ Miners.

The ability to do just that against Palisades paid dividends for Doyle, who found enough trouble to put eight Pirates on base and then did enough to leave them there.

“When people get into scoring position, I try to focus on them harder and not allow hits,” Doyle said, adding the idea of a Sunday afternoon high school playoff game did not bother him.

“I like the warm weather anyway,” he said.

The setting suited the rest of the Bulldogs as well. Tri-Valley accumulated 12 hits, including three by Owen Miller, who had three RBIs. Layne Yoder, Lucas Scheib and Trey Porter each added two hits.

Yoder and Porter each had two RBIs, but it was Jason Stewart who ended the game by the 10-run rule when he scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the sixth inning.

Tri-Valley (17-4) scored in every inning, thanks in part to four hit batsmen, seven walks and four Palisades errors.

On the other hand, Palisades could never find the hit with runners in scoring position that might have produced an entirely different game.

“Yeah, it was a little frustrating,” Pirates head coach Gary Koenig said. “Give credit to them. They played a very good game. They were very aggressive. We just didn’t get the clutch hits when we needed them.”

In the first, Doyle walked two batters and gave up a hit to Ted Musselman, but escaped without damage when Sean Camp grounded out to the first baseman. Palisades then used two singles and a walk to jam the sacks again in the third, but Doyle posted back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

Palisades didn’t score until Doyle was relieved by Scheib, who gave up an RBI double to Jaden Kerr in the fifth.

By then, the Bulldogs were well on their way to keeping their season alive. Scoring four times in the first inning, Tri-Valley eventually stole six bases, including three by Miller, to keep the pressure on the Pirates.

“A lot of our kids were hitting and our pitchers were doing fantastic keeping them off balance,” Smith said.

While the ending for Palisades was bitter, Koenig said his Pirates performed better than anyone expected.

“We made a real good run at it here, making it to the semifinals,” he said. “Nobody picked us to go anywhere, even in the Colonial League nor here.”