Valhalla’s Jordan Qsar slides into second with a stolen base for the Norsemen, who enter today’s semifinals with a chance to defend their Premier Division title.
Needing a victory to advance to today’s semifinals of the 63rd annual Lions Baseball Tournament, Valhalla High turned the ball over to left-hander Mitch Coombs.
The junior got the Norsemen the win they needed, but he also tossed a complete-game two-hitter as well. And not needing to use the bullpen will pay dividends today.
The 11-0 victory over host Torrey Pines, in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule, moves Valhalla into the Premier Division semifinals against Grossmont High at 12:30 p.m. today at Grossmont College. The championship game follows at 3:30.
With their sixth consecutive win, the Norsemen advanced to defend last year’s Premier Division title. Because of Coombs, Valhalla (7-4) will have a few more innings for its pitchers to use.
Coombs allowed an infield single in the fourth inning by Chad Thurston and a single to center in the fifth by pinch-hitter Tom Baronner while walking just one and striking out four.
“Ground outs are my friend,” said Coombs, who improved to 2-1. “I want more of them. With my defense, why wouldn’t I want more ground balls?”
The Valhalla bats continued their torrid hitting, lashing out eight hits and taking advantage of three walks, three hit batters and six errors by Torrey Pines (5-6).
With four runs in the first inning, Valhalla set the tone. By the end of the second inning, it was 10-0.
That’s hardly the same team that opened the season with a lackluster 1-4 start, including losses to Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Buena Vista and Poway with late rallies.
“We knew we were a good team,” Coombs said. “It was just a matter of when would it start clicking.
“No one said anything. We all just kind of got tired of losing. We texted each other during that start. Everyone was freaking out. But our confidence is way up there now.”
Connor Hopkins, the ninth hitter in the Valhalla lineup, was 2-for-2 with a two-run single. Ramsey Romano, the all-section quarterback on the football team and leadoff hitter, was 2-for-4.
“Our motto all year has been to play seven innings and we were only playing about five innings early on,” Valhalla coach Mike Wilson said. “We’d play really well for five innings or so, but that’s not good enough.”
Then without warning, the Norsemen’s offense picked up.
“Sometimes, there is nothing that gets a team going,” added Coombs. “That’s just baseball.”
That’s also a ticket to the Lions Tournament semifinals.