LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) The answer came
After giving up a Series record-tying four consecutive hits to begin the game, which led to three runs by No. 8 Antelope Valley (Calif.), the Eagles responded
“I’m not a believer in momentum,” Faulkner coach Patrick McCarthy said. “I think your pitcher is the one who sets the tone in a game.”
The tone, however, for Faulkner starter Tyler Tungate seemed shaky at best when three consecutive singles started the game and the final one by Tyler Pittmon produced a run. A two-run double by Maciel Adam had Antelope Valley up 3-0 before an out was even recorded in the game.
Faulkner (54-7) was unfazed by the fast start by the Pioneers (45-13-1) and answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Reese Cooley singled in a run and Jacob Freeland provided the big blow with a three-run home run, his fourth of the season, to put the Eagles ahead.
The Eagles continued the long-ball attack when Cooley hit his 14th home run of the season in the fifth inning, a solo shot, and Austin Paschke led off a bizarre bottom of the sixth inning with his 13th home run of the season. An RBI single later in the inning by Te’kwaan White made it 8-3.
Faulkner eventually put runners on second and third with no outs when one of the more unusual triple plays took place. Ryan Rosa flew out to right, and both base runners were called out for leaving their bases early while tagging up.
Instead of breaking the game wide open, Faulkner wound up having to hang on as Antelope Valley rallied for two runs apiece in the seventh and ninth innings. A wild pitch scored the first run, while a double by Pittmon produced another in the seventh.
In the ninth, Jake Harrison hit a one-out solo home run to left and Pittmon followed with a solo home run to right. Faulkner reliever Jonathan Wilkins then struck out the final two batters to preserve the win.
Freeland had three RBI, while Whyte added three hits for Faulkner. Pittmon had three hits and three RBI for the Pioneers.
Tungate (9-0) settled down after the first inning and allowed only three earned runs over six innings. He also struck out nine and walked one.
Clayton Rabiej (11-1) took the loss for Antelope Valley. He gave up 11 hits and eight runs over six innings.
Faulkner returns to action on Monday when it takes on No. 5 Southeastern (Fla.) at 3 p.m. Antelope Valley falls into loser-out play against the University of Northwestern (Ohio) at 11:30 a.m., also on Monday.