Bears avenge loss to Montezuma and win fourth straight

Cael Hester led the offensive charge for the Bears when they got revenge against Montezuma on July 3. Hester had two hits, scored twice, stole two bases and drove in three runs in the 8-7 victory over the Braves.

The English Valleys baseball team was able to avenge their loss earlier in the season to the Montezuma Braves by holding on 8-7 on July 3, their fourth straight win to end the regular season.

    English Valleys and Montezuma met up earlier in the season on June 8 in another close game until late. The Bears led that game by as much as six runs, but a late rally sent EV home with an 8-14 loss. In the second meeting the Braves took the lead early, but it was the Bears who finished out on top.

    “The kids are playing with a large amount of confidence right now,” Bears coach Jeremy Thomas said. “We needed to be in that nine to 14 hit range and that would get us seven to 10 runs and that’s what we’ve been doing the last few games.”

    After going down three runs, the Bears put together a four-run rally in the third to take the lead. That all began with a single by Tanner Mihal, who then stole second base. Beau Flander was walked and both he and Mihal advanced a base on a called balk on the mound. Cooper Andreassen brought in a run with a sacrifice grounder and then Cael Hester drove Flander with a single. Hester stole second to put himself in scoring position and got a little closer by taking third on a passed ball situation.

    “It was huge for us to be aggressive on the bases,” Thomas said. “Some of our hits could’ve been double plays by hitting into a force out. We had to get them in once they were in scoring position regardless of how many outs there were, and we were able to accomplish that.”

    Cole Stephenson kept things going by getting on base via walk and continued the trend of stealing second. Brayden Mikesell recorded an RBI on a groundout and Jacob Glandon brought in the fourth run of the inning with an infield single. From that point the lead would bounce back and forth as EV would match any runs scored by Montezuma, which is all they needed to do.

    The Braves scored two in the fifth and two in the sixth but EV retook the lead twice with two runs of their own in each of those innings to get the win. Those innings saw momentum shift from one dugout to the other as neither team gave in till the last out.

    “I think our confidence as of late really helped us out in the end,” Thomas said. “We’ve played behind against teams, but our bats are coming along and when our pitchers keep grinding and throwing strikes, we’re going to start putting up some big runs.”

    Mikesell drove in two runs in the fifth inning after Andreassen was walked and Hester was hit by a pitch. Those two pulled off a double steal before Mikesell brought them in with a single. Hester drove in the final two runs for the Bears in the sixth inning after Kaden Hall and Flander got on base with singles. With two outs in the sixth, Hester stepped up and hit a clutch double which gave EV the lead back for good.

    “It’s important for them to know that we can comeback no matter the deficit,” Thomas said. “I told them to keep doing what they’ve been doing and keep working at it. Good things are going to happen.”

    Andreassen was a force on the mound and tossed 4 1/3 innings of four-hit ball, walked four and struck out seven. Stephenson was brought in to relieve him and earned the win by throwing the last 2 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and struck out one.

    “They both battled and knew the defense was behind them and they could do it,” Thomas said. “We limited them to one or two runs in an inning compared to letting up more runs like we did in the beginning of the year.”

    Bear leaders: Cael Hester – 2 hits, Cooper Andreassen/Cael Hester – 2 runs, Cael Hester/Brayden Mikesell – 3 RBIs, Cooper Andreassen – 4 SB, Cooper Andreassen – 7 Ks

    The Bears continued to fire on all cylinders by beating Tri-County 11-1 on July 7 which advanced them to face Lisbon in District play on July 10.