ST. GEORGE – After stunning No. 1 seed Tabiona in yesterday’s semifinal game, the Valley Buffaloes took on fellow region rival Wayne in Friday’s 1A championship game at Bruce Hurst Field.
Unlike three of the four previous meetings between these two teams, it was a total team effort on the Buffaloes part, as Valley dominated Wayne 10-0, to capture its second baseball championship in school history.
“Winning the state title is a dream come true,” Valley pitcher Kobe Shatto said. “It’s everything that we wanted. We’ve all been on the same team since our little league days and I’m glad we were able to pull it out today.”
Today’s game certainly was not what Badger player’s coaches and fans expected after winning 20 games on the season — three more than any other team in 1A play.
After dropping three games to Wayne earlier on the year, it was the Buffaloes’ mentality that made all the difference.
“We went in believing in each other and knew we could beat them,” Shatto said. “Having played each other a lot this season, we knew what to expect and played the best that we could today.”
Just like they did Friday, the Buffaloes quickly jumped out to an early lead as Preston Harris drove in the game’s first run with a shot to left field in the first inning. The Buffaloes had runners on second and third, but couldn’t take advantage as both runners were left on base to end the inning.
It didn’t take long for Valley to get back up to bat, as Shatto retired the first three Badger batters in less than a minute.
After Cobe Reck blasted a shot to right field to bring home Coleman Sorensen, the Buffaloes quickly built a 2-0 lead and looked as if they were going to break the game wide open with runners on first and second.
However, Wayne pitcher Brenden Robins would have none of it, striking out the next batter and forcing a pop up with the next to get out of the jam. Just like the first inning, the Buffalos scored a run, but left two runners on base.
Wayne got its first hit of the game when Jake Stevens slapped a shot to left field. Unfortunately for the Badgers, it was their last hit of the game as Shatto settled into a groove and struck out the next two batters in Nate Dendy and Robins.
A couple of singles by the Buffaloes in the third inning loaded the bases up for Valley. With the bases loaded, Tim Hoyt put down a beautiful bunt to advance all of the Buffalo runners. With the bases still loaded, Sorensen stepped up to the play and hit a shot right to Wayne’s shortstop Jaden Ellett, who tried to make a play at home, but Valley’s Preston Harris beat the tag at home to give the Buffaloes a 4-0 lead. Beck then followed it up with another RBI single to extend the lead to five.
With the bases still loaded and just one out, it looked as if the floodgates were opening as Austin Spencer came to the plate for Valley. Robins settled down and was able to get Spencer to ground out at third, and Shatto at first, to get out of another big jam. But the damage was already done as Valley put up three runs in the third to take a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.
After another three up, three down inning for Wayne, the Buffaloes added another run in the fourth to continue their streak of scoring at least one run every inning.
The streak ended in the fifth inning, but Valley made sure to make up for it as they added a combined five runs in the sixth and seventh inning to take a commanding 10-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.
With the Buffaloes just three outs away from capturing their second baseball title in school history, the excitement and electricity was filling the stadium. After Shatto got Stevens to ground out at first, there was only one batter left that was standing in the way of a Valley championship. As Dendy stepped up to the plate, Shatto used an array of pitches to get him to strike out and give the Buffaloes the victory.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win the state championship,” head coach Joseph Sorensen said. “Our kids played out of their minds today and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Sorensen said it was a team effort.
“We have 8 seniors on the team and they have really stepped up over the last half of the season,” Sorensen said. “Kobe Shatto pitched a great game and Justin Millard made phenomenal catches all day for us.”
At the end of the day, Valley had 18 hits compared to one for Wayne.
“I guess you could say that we played a perfect game,” Sorensen said. “Well, almost perfect, we did allow one hit.”
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.