Spring Valley improved to 2-0 at the Forest Acres Classic baseball tournament on Wednesday, thumping struggling Camden 11-1. The Vikings will be looking to earn a spot in Friday’s championship game by beating host A.C. Flora in Thursday’s pool play finale at 8 p.m.
The Vikings (12-4) came into the spring break event with the idea of rebounding from a two-loss week that cost them first place in Region 4-4A.
“Maybe this is the bounce back week for us,” said SV coach Charlie Wentzky. “Before last week we had been playing very well, but sometimes it’s hard to get back to that level again after you’ve lost it like we did."
Spring Valley opened the tournament with a 5-3 win over Laurens on Tuesday.
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Camden (8-8) has been inconsistent all season, primarily due to injuries to senior stars Alvonta’ Jenkins and DeVante’ Hayes, but Bulldogs manager Denny Beckley says the problem runs deeper.
“We got a phenomenal effort from Kal Davis today, but I don’t know where the other 16 guys were,” said Beckley, whose team dropped a 17-4 decision to A.C. Flora in the first round. “I’m pretty frustrated by my guys right now, especially after these last two games.”
Wentzky had a spot-on assessment of the contest.
“We kind of lost interest in finishing the game for a while and I think they lost interest in staying in the game for a while,” he said.
Spring Valley jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first two innings against ineffective Camden starter Jake Ansley, but Davis blanked the Vikings from there until running out of gas in the top of the seventh inning.
In between, the Bulldogs had ample opportunity to get back in the hunt. After finally pushing a run across against Spring Valley southpaw Dane Windham in the fourth, Camden loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and sixth innings. The only problem was the ‘Dogs came up empty on both occasions.
In the fifth, Windham struck out Zach Davenport (looking) and Josh Lund (swinging) to end that threat. In the sixth, Camden loaded the sacks with one out again against Windham, but failed to deliver against reliever Aaron Laughead.
“Aaron is a competitive guy, and he’s been good in these situations,” said Wentzky.
Laughead caught Davenport looking at another third strike and got an infield pop fly for the third out from pinch hitter Will Hough.
The Vikings made it a rout by scoring five runs in the seventh. The burst featured two-run doubles by pinch hitters Marsh McClure and Chase Haas.
Matt Garnett and Austin Hill were the Spring Valley offensive headliners. Garnett went 4-for-4 with two runs scored. Three of the safeties came on perfectly placed bunts. Hill went 3-for-4 with one run scored and two RBIs.
Davis was 3-for-3 with a walk and scored Camden’s only run on a Drew Charles hit.
The defensive play of the game was by Camden center fielder Tripp Speaks who made a tremendous running catch of a drive off the bat of Kevin Hastings in front of the scoreboard in left center to close out the Vikings fifth and keep two runs from scoring.