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HAHIRA — In a GISA Region 3-3A opener for both sides, Valwood and Deerfield-Windsor got hot at different points in the game.
For Deerfield-Windsor, it was at the beginning. For Valwood, at the end.
The Valiants rallied from a six-run deficit in the seventh inning, but came up short in an 8-5 loss against the Knights at Browning Field on Tuesday night.
“We have to be a team that produces runs,” coach Robert Shipman said. “We have to take advantage of the situation. When we get a runner on second with one out or less, we have to move the guy over. When we have multiple runners on, we have to have a timely hit.”
The Valiants (3-2, 0-1) scored three runs in the final frame. Their comeback attempt was made possible by some timely hitting. After Jaharie Boone and JM McRae were walked back-to-back, Sam Martin singled Boone home to bring the Valiants within 8-3.
Burns singled home McRae to cut the deficit to 8-4 and a third single produced another run.
Dalton Stephens hit into a 1-3 play with two runners aboard and two outs to end the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, Tayte Barry singled to right-center, advancing Burns to third. Dane Fafard hit into a fielder’s choice and Burns scored to bring Valwood within 8-2 with no outs on the board.
The Knights (3-1, 1-0) went ahead 8-0 when Cole Mitchell singled to center and scored Baylin Moore in the top of the fifth.
“We had the poorest start you could probably have with our pitching and a little bit on the defense — the ball was going through a couple of outfielders’ legs — and we were fighting uphill the whole game,” Shipman said.
Deerfield-Windsor scored two runs in the first, five in the second and left five on base.
Boone had two hits, including a double, and scored two runs. The Valiants totaled six hits and left nine aboard.
“Jaharie was aggressive in his approaches, Tayte had a couple of pretty good swings, but from the fifth inning to the seventh, it looked like we were locked in and prepared to go,” Shipman said.
Mason Williams took the loss on the mound for Valwood, surrendering three earned runs on one hit with two walks and one strikeout in one inning. Fafard relieved with 3 1/3 innings, allowing four hits for three runs with a walk.
Deerfield starter Jack Kimbrell allowed three hits for one run with eight strikeouts and three walks in 5 innings to earn the win. Joe Morgan pitched 2 innings of relief, giving up three earned runs on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Bo Bueschen finished with a double, two RBIs and scored two runs for the Knights. Moore had two RBIs and scored a run, and Drew Reich scored two runs.
Moving forward for Valwood, it’s about getting off to stronger starts, both offensively and defensively.
“We’ll be focusing on that, working on our routine batting practice and our tee work and that stuff,” Shipman said. “…Aside from spotting teams runs early in the game, we played pretty tight, clean defense after that.”
Valwood visits Echols County on Thursday.