Valley, CMU play to draw

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The Vikings won the first game of their series against CMU when senior Rhett Parker came in to retire all three batters he faced in the top of the seventh inning.

The Missouri Valley College baseball team finished its weekend Heart of America Conference series even-up with visiting Central Methodist, which -- like the Vikings -- is destined to see its season end shy of the playoffs.

All four games were decided by two or fewer runs, three of them one-run affairs, with Valley winning Saturday's opener, 6-5, and Sunday's finale, 1-0, behind a three-hitter from junior Mike Tachell. The middle games went to the Eagles by margins of 5-3 and 8-7, the latter going nine innings.

Junior Justin Larkin drove in three runs and senior Andy Blanco added two RBIs, neither with a hit, as the Vikings made the most of their opportunities to win the first game of the set. Valley never trailed, scoring four runs in the bottom of the second inning for a 5-0 lead.

Junior Tony Teixeria had two hits, including a homer, and knocked in a pair of runs to lead Methodist's comeback bid, which was stopped by senior Rhett Parker when he relieved in the ninth -- retiring all three batters he faced for his second save in a row.

The Eagles broke open a 2-2 deadlock with two runs in the top of the fourth during Saturday's nightcap, senior Nate Breland getting three hits and plating two runs to pace the attack. Junior David Fox, Methodist's most successful starter this season, made the lead hold up by scattering eight hits.

Senior Jeff St. Pierre and junior Enrique Castro each had two hits and senior Gabe Riley added an RBI double for Valley.

After giving up six runs in the top of the first to begin Sunday's action, senior Nick Bowers settled down and combined with Parker to blank the Eagles over the next seven frames to allow the Vikings to come back.

St. Pierre threw in a dinger among his four hits and he and senior Sean Morrison knocked in a pair of runs, Valley catching up with three runs in the fifth.

Methodist, which got a two-run double from senior Brett Loman, took an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth -- but the Vikings threatened until being shut down with a pair of strikeouts from freshman Zach Brown, a two-time all-state pitcher from Santa Fe.

Tachell and Valley's defense, which handled 19 out of 20 chances, performed admirably in the getaway game. The Vikings' lone run came in the fourth when Castro singled and scored due to an error. Senior Kevin Karl, who allowed only five hits, was the hard-luck loser for the Eagles (17-28, 11-13 HAAC).

The season will come to an end for Valley (17-23, 9-15) this weekend after completion of a four-game series at Evangel.

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