SMITHERS, W.Va. - With its dynamic offense bottled up by Man left-hander Braden Griffin Tuesday evening, Valley had to get resourceful - at the plate and on the mound.
Drew Jones scored a pair of runs with pure hustle and Arik McGinnis tallied the game-winner in similar style as the state-ranked Greyhounds escaped a pending upset with a 3-2 victory in the Class A Region 3 semifinals.
Valley (22-7), the No. 6 team in the Gazette's state ratings, advances to the regional final at Fayetteville (18-14) at 5 p.m. Thursday, with the winner earning a spot in the May 30-June 1 state tournament at Appalachian Power Park.
The Greyhounds are gunning for their third straight visit to the state tournament but nearly rolled snake eyes on Tuesday, trailing 2-1 to unheralded Man (6-21-1) going into the bottom of the fifth.
However, leadoff man Jones and No. 3 hitter McGinnis manufactured runs during a rally that produced just one hit - Jones' bunt single to start the inning. McGinnis, the team's senior ace, then shut the door with two innings of one-hit relief.
"That's the thing about baseball,'' said Valley coach Joe Craffey. "You can throw records out the window. I tried to tell the guys earlier in the week you can't rest on your laurels of what you did previously against a team. You've got to come ready to play every day. Their pitcher threw a good game, but we chased a bunch of bad pitches, too.''
Valley, carrying a hefty .414 team batting average before the game, managed just three singles against Griffin (52/3 innings, nine strikeouts) and reliever Cody Carter - Todd Coleman's bad-hop hit over the first baseman's head in the third, Jones' bunt in the fifth and Coleman's sharp single in the sixth.
In fact, there were no RBIs credited for any of the Greyhounds' runs.
Jones led off the bottom of the first with a walk, took second on a wild pickoff attempt, stole third and then scampered home when the throw from the third baseman back to the mound got away.
Man then grabbed a 2-1 advantage, getting an RBI single from No. 9 hitter Neil Mullins in the second and a run-scoring double from Cayce Mullins in the third.
The Hillbillies got their runs off reliever Cody Winter, who started the game at catcher but had to take over on the mound when freshman starter Druw Bowen (6-0, 2.15 ERA) developed discomfort in his elbow before the top of the second. Winter threw four innings and got the win.
"I don't know what's going on,'' Craffey said of the injury to Bowen, who played the remainder of the game at third and short. "We've got to find out.
"We're scrambling around and give Cody a lot of credit. He came in there after he'd been behind the plate and gave us four good innings. When he came to the park today, he had no idea he was going to pitch. To his credit, he sucked it up and did a damn good job. He got better as he went on.''