Lake Region stops Otter Valley nine
BRANDON — Outstanding pitching by a Lake Region senior and one rocky inning on Saturday ended the Otter Valley Union High School baseball team’s dream of a second straight Division II title.
With Parker Brown tossing a two-hitter and striking out 12, No. 6 Lake Region defeated host No. 3 OV, 5-1, before a big crowd.
The 11-4 Rangers will next take on No. Harwood (14-2), with which they split this season. Coach Mike Howe’s 13-5 Otters suffered only their second D-II loss of the spring after a strong season.
“It’s a resilient team,” Howe said. “We’ve played in a lot of close games. We’ve had some walk-off wins. We’ve battled back. They play hard. There was no doubt in my mind we could have come back in the bottom of the seventh. It just wasn’t our day today.”
For three innings Brown and OV junior Josh Beayon matched zeroes on the scoreboard. Beayon struck out five and allowed two baserunners through three innings, while Brown worked out of a two-out, two-on jam in the first after Beayon reached on an error and Payson Williams singled.
LRU broke through in the fourth, when catcher Brady Perron lined the inning’s first pitch over the left-field fence. Beayon then hit a batter and walked another, but he picked a runner off first base and senior catcher Daniel Allen caught a runner stealing third to keep it 1-0.
The Otters got that run back in their half of the fourth without a hit. Williams drew a lead-off walk, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored when Kollin Bissette put down a suicide squeeze bunt on a tough high fastball. The Otters threatened for more with two outs when Brown hit Allen with a pitch, walked Marcus McCullough, and tossed a wild pitch to move the runners up. But a strikeout ended the scoring chance.
Then the Rangers scrapped for the winning rally in the fifth. With one out Beayon momentarily walked No. 9 hitter Noah Royer and leadoff man Dylan Gagnon. The next batter hit a grounder, and OV got the middle man, but the relay to first bounced away (OV’s only error was costly) and allowed Royer to come home with the go-ahead run.
OV intentionally walked Brady Perron, and Parker Perron followed with a bloop double to score another run. Brown’s solid single scored two more and made it 5-1.
Williams pitched the final two innings and shut down the Rangers, but the Otters could not push another run across. They went down in order in the fifth and seventh, but put their first two runners on base in the sixth. Williams singled to lead off, and Patrick McKeighan worked a walk. But Brown, who combined a strong fastball with a curve that became more effective in the later innings, whiffed the next three batters.
Howe praised Brown and the Rangers.
OTTER SENIOR PAYSON Williams pitched two shutout innings against Lake Region Saturday afternoon. Otter Valley lost the Division II quarterfinal game, 5-1. Photo by Lee Kahrs/Brandon Reporter
“We’ve seen some good pitchers this year, we really have, and he’s right up there,” he said. “He hit his spots, kept us off balance pretty well. We could have taken advantage of a couple opportunities, but you’ve got to tip your hat. They played a heck of a ballgame.”
And he credited the Otters, and seniors Williams, Allen and Zach Bruce, for what they have accomplished — as recently as 2016 OV was a three-win team.
“It’s really hard to win a championship. It’s really hard to win two in a row. We have a lot of talent on this team. We have guys that love baseball,” Howe said. “I’m very appreciative of our three seniors. They were with us when it wasn’t so fun. They fought through it and worked their tails off, and I’m glad we got last year because they deserved it.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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