Valley edges Panthers in extra innings

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HOOSICK, N.Y. — Hoosic Valley baseball coach Alex Lilac had bragging rights at the dinner table Wednesday night.

Lilac's Indians squad outlasted his father Mike Lilac and his Hoosick Falls squad in a 6-5 game that ended in eight innings.

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead in the second inning, grabbing two runs. With one out in the inning, Isaac Humphrey knocked a single and Sam Wickenden followed by reaching on an error by the second baseman. Sam Richard hit a grounder that looked to be a double-play ball, but after getting the first out, the Valley shortstop threw an errant throw to first, which allowed Humphrey to score from second base. Ryan Bloomer ripped a hard-hit single on the next at-bat to score Richard.

The Indians wasted little time grabbing back the momentum, scoring four runs in the top of the third. The big hit came from Justin Sawyer, as the No. 3 hitter drove in two runs on a single.

Humphrey knocked in a run on a single in the bottom half for Hoosick Falls, but Wickenden lined into a double play to the end the inning on the next batter.

The Panthers left two runners on base in that inning and that just continued a trend that hurt them early in Wednesday's contest as they had left on three and two runners respectively in the previous innings.

In a close game like Wednesday's, not coming through in those spots can be costly.

"We've been really good all year of taking advantage of those situations and have had a lot of two-out hits," Mike Lilac said. "We had a couple today, but that's how baseball is. Something that happens early in the game, you don't know what it could have led to and how impactful it is."

Valley scored another run in the fourth on a single from third baseman CJ Bassett, and after two batters in the fifth, the Indians chased Panthers right-hander Evan Webster from the game.

Webster battled through 4 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and runs, along with four strikeouts.

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Eighth-grader Jake Sparks came on in relief of Webster and held Valley right where they were.

Sparks and his defense came up especially strong in the sixth, where the Indians had loaded the bases with no outs. The first batter up with the bases loaded was Jacob White and he grounded out to Hoosick Falls shortstop Max Kipp, who went to his side to make the play and get the runner at home. Sawyer came up next and hit a grounder to Kipp again and the junior made that play as well. A fly-out to Panthers first baseman Ryan Bloomer in foul ground ended the threat.

Hoosick Falls tied up the game in the bottom half as Kipp and Cody Hodges both had RBIs, with Hodges' base knock being a double.

Sparks continued to hold the Indians right where they were until the top of the eighth, where Isaac Carlo scored on a grounder to Bloomer, who couldn't get the throw home in time.

Despite that disappointing end to the game, Sparks was strong in 3 2/3 innings of work.

"We know [Jake] is going to be around the plate and he's going to mix up his pitches and he has a lot of composure out there for a young kid," Mike Lilac said. "Between Evan and Jake, all you do is ask them to give us a chance to win. Our guys have given us a chance to win every game."

While Wednesday's game will result in a tally in the loss column, it's always a great experience for Mike Lilac to coach against his son Alex, something he's been able to do in both baseball and basketball over the past two years.

"He might have needed some counseling if he had lost that one," Mike Lilac said. "In the end, it's about his kids and our kids. There was some really good competition between them. We're going to go over to Hoosick Falls Diner right now and talk about it. I'm proud of him. He works hard at it and the Hoosic Valley community are going to get their money's worth with him being there."

Hoosick Falls drops to 3-2 on the season, as its three-game win streak is snapped. The Panthers play Waterford on the road Friday.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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