A pair of East Valley athletic teams took full advantage of their home fields with Frontier League playoff victories on a sunny, balmy Tuesday afternoon.
The Knight soccer team claimed the No. 1 seed in the State AA playoffs with a 1-0 victory over Riverside/Deer Park.
EV’s baseball team won 7-2 over Cheney to move within a win of the State AA regionals.
Clint Burgess nailed an indirect kick at the 53-minute mark for the only score of the soccer seeding contest.
East Valley will host Eastmont Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first round of the state tournament.
It marks the fourth straight year a Jim Spencer-coached Knights team has advanced to state without winning a Frontier League championship.
Upstart Riverside/DP, which upset league champion Cheney last Saturday to qualify for state, travels to West Valley (Yakima).
“Our defense was really composed,” said Spencer of EV’s close-to-the-vest triumph. “We didn’t let them get behind our defense at all.”
Both teams had offensive jousts to little avail in the first half, although on three occasions, EV keeper Robbie Atwood made spectacular saves.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, Chad Misterek was fouled giving the Knights their scoring opening. Burgess sliced a shot on a touch from Tory Swenson that found the right corner of the goal.
“Chad took the foul on this,” said Burgess, who deferred credit for the shot. What was going through Burgess’ mind when he took the shot?
“Don’t miss,” he said.
“It’s just a touch and you try for the side netting at the far post,” said Spencer. “It’s usually what a team gets.”
For seniors Burgess and fullback Jeremy Triplett it is their third state appearance.
“It’s important being home,” said Triplett. “There’s no fatique and you get more fans.”
Added Burgess, “There’s more pressure, but you have a little more confidence.”
Knight seniors Rich Burland and Keith Osso compiled gaudy offensive statistics during the Frontier League season, but neither had hit a home run- until Tuesday.
Burland launched a two-run shot in the third inning to rally the Knights from an early deficit.
“I’ve hit ‘em in practice all year,” said Burland, who batted .464 in league. “I guess practice doesn’t count. I was saving them for the playoffs.”
Then, after Burland singled in a run to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth, Osso smacked a three-run shot that broke open the taut game against the visiting Blackhawks.
Osso, the team hitting leader with a .574 average, hit his to nearly the same spot in left-center field.
“Those were pretty huge for us,” admitted EV Coach Kurt Krauth, “because we beat their ace.”
Brock Rogers followed Osso by reaching base on an error and scoring on Cheney defensive lapses.
They were enough for Knight pitcher Steve Pipkin who scattered seven hits for his seventh win of the year.
“They’re a real good hitting team so you have to go after them,” said Pipkin. “I knew a couple of them couldn’t hit my curveball, if I didn’t hang it.”
He outpitched Cheney soph Tucker Urdahl who doubled and scored on Colin Fiddes’ hit in the third for a 1-0 lead.
Brian Miller, who had three hits for the Blackhawks, homered to lead off the fourth and tie the game.
Burland, Osso and Bill Tincup all had two hits for the Knights.
Cheney comes back to East Valley Saturday at 11 a.m. needing two successive wins to earn the league’s regional berth.
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