Rams sweep Holtville in two thrillers to advance to state semifinals

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, May 2, 2024

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The Valley Rams continued its special season on Thursday as they put on a show in front of their home crowd and swept Holtville in the 5A quarterfinals. 

The Rams were led by dominant starts on the mound from C.J. Chambley and Jackson Sanders. The pair combined for 13 shutout innings against a solid Bulldog offense. 

“Two seniors get the ball tonight and throw their tails off,” Valley coach Mike Meadows said. “Jackson throws a complete game, CJ goes six innings of shutout ball and Matthew [Mcdonald] comes in and gets a line drive for a triple play to end it. High school baseball at its best.” 

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Valley’s defense came through on multiple occasions, but no play was bigger than the triple play to end the series in game two. Mcdonald replaced Chambley in the bottom of the seventh after two walks to start the inning. 

Mcdonald faced just one batter. Holtville sent both runners on a double steal. The decision ended up being fateful as with both runners in motion a line drive was hit to Chambley and he turned a rare triple play. 

“They played lights out,” Meadows said. “We made one error in two games. That’s pretty good in high school baseball.”

The atmosphere for both games was unlike any other high school baseball game in the state. The entire stadium was filled with Ram faithful. Add fireworks to that equation along with a thrilling matchup on the field, and you have one of the best sporting experiences of the year. 

“Look at this man. It’s crazy,” Meadows said. “On a Thursday night in Valley Alabama, for this right here, it don’t get any better.” 


Game One: Valley – 1 Holtville – 0


Game one was the ultimate pitcher’s duel, but Valley came away with the key plays when needed to come away with a 1-0 win. 

The biggest play in the game came in the bottom of the third inning. With the bases loaded and one out, C.J. Chambley drew a walk to drive home Bryson Monteith. The Rams could not come away with insurance runs with the bases loaded, but the one run was all it took. 

Jackson Sanders is well known as one of the top pitchers in the entire state, and he put together perhaps his best performance of the season on Thursday. Sanders pitched a complete seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out 13 batters. 

The Bulldogs’ best chance at a run came with courtesy runner Cedrick Croskey on the base paths. Croskey stole second in the top of the sixth inning and advanced to third after a flyout with two outs. Croskey was stranded after a ground out on an excellent play in the field from Chambley. 

Croskey found his way on the basepaths again in the top of the seventh inning with one out. This time, Valley’s catcher Carter Green threw a laser to get Croskey out on a steal attempt of second to seal the game. 

Hits were few and far between in game one as the Rams finished with just five. Gren, Monteith, Mcdonald, Ty Monteith and Mason Yarbrough all finished with a hit apiece. 


Game Two: Valley – 2 Holtville – 0


Valley got on the board early in game two. Carter Green got the scoring started in the top of the second as he cranked a double into center field to score Ty. 

Green along with several others in the bottom of Valley’s lineup led the way at the plate, combining for three out of the five hits in game two. 

“The bottom part of our lineup is starting to have some better at-bats,” Meadows said. “If we’re going to make it all the way, that’s what it’s going to take.” 

Chambley pitched to contact more than Sanders, but he was stellar on the mound. Chambley allowed just three hits in six innings of work. 

“Just going up there with the right mindset and getting locked in before the game. I saw the strike zone real well tonight,” Chambley said. 

The Rams found an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning as Ty drove a single into left field to score Sanders and make it 2-0. 

Holtville left seven runners on base in game two. Chambley was able to work out of trouble all the way until he was pulled in the bottom of the seventh. Even then, Chambley was able to turn a triple play at shortstop to work out of a jam again. 

“I just knew I had to catch it and make a good throw to Ty to get it into his hands,” Chambley said. 

The Rams moved to 26-5 after the sweep. Valley will face Mobile Christian in the 5A semifinals.